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Distilling all influencing and contributing factors against an adaptive enterprise a single word - I would go with fear.
Founders, Boardmembers and CEOs fear that a more adaptive, democratic, participative culture leads to a limitation or lack of their centralized control, short-and midterm loss of productivity and negative share impact. They are afraid to create an adult organisation that does not need a parental hierarchy.
Middle Managers fear lack of control and the unknown country of evolving from disciplinary masters to orchestrating enablers. They also fear that their teams are not willing or able to act like adults.
Staff prefers the illusion of safety over the reality of ambiguity and volatility, they need to learn and equip themselves to deal with. They are afraid to step to being adults in the workplace.
HR is afraid to take the lead for a new management paradigm or live it in its own HR organisation as a lighthouse culture. HR is afraid of not being able to or permitted to enabling an adult organisation.
Great topic. My interest in the role of fear in business was activated thirty years ago when I read Edward Demings work. Drive out fear whereever you find it in your organisation. Nothing much has changed in that respect in the intervening decades. Another of Demings teachings that never got much traction, even by his supposed followers, was his thoughts on remuneration. With the western world mired in the greatest amount of private debt as a ratio of GDP ever, thirty eight trillion in the US, this has a great impact on fear. It is so entrenched in the human psyche now that most don't recognize they are influenced by it. That lever of control, the ability to service and pay down debt, is now three times more powerful than it was in the 50s and 60s. The thing is, that when the stress goes on, you reach for the quickest and easiest solution. If you have your hand on that lever, you pull it.
The thing I feel worth of study, is the relationship between fear, love and trust, and building business systems designed explicitly to impact them that involve remuneration. I am particularly interested in Dan Pink's opinions from his book Drive, and the aspect of taking money off the table.
It is interesting that the negative connotation of fear has won out over the flip of fear i.e. trust. This is a great post which highlights that ADULTS are fearful of ambiguity and that middle managers want control, the two are the perfect breeding ground for a lack of trust. In such an environment presentism is rewarded and managing by seeing is the norm, therefore the status quo exists. An adaptable organisation recognises that jobs and projects in a knowledge economy are rarely easily defined and that people work in different ways and in different places.
Hello Heiko - I'm pleased you added this to the mix, it will strike a chord with many people I expect. I've written on fear a number of times, most recently here http://stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/hr/in-fear-of-fear/ drawing on a wide range of perspectives. I included some thoughts on how to deal with fear as a barrier - that's the main reason I've added the link, in case you and others want to take a look and see if any of this stuff is helpful.
Kahnemann's book 'Thinking Fast and Slow' is a helpful resource when looking at fear and other workplace challenges too, he's a smart guy.
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