“Improvement happens when very smart people, just like me, come up with clever plans, and everybody else does what they’re told.”
That’s what I was taught in engineering and business school. Nobody call it out, we never discussed it. It was as invisible and pervasive as the air we breathed.
It took me a decade to unlearn. And I was lucky enough to have superb and patient senseis. (Always so difficult with you, Pascal-san!)
Have engineering, business and other professional schools addressed this core mental model? I doubt it.
Certainly, this way of thinking is very much alive in our organizations, both private and public, and it holds us back.
Let me suggest a different way of leading:
Improvement happens when senior leaders
- Define Purpose clearly and compellingly,
- Define our ‘design space’ (the banks of the river),
- Create an atmosphere conducive to creativity and initiative,
- Check in regularly,
- Reduce hassles wherever possible, and otherwise stay out of the way, and
- Say thank you
This is uncomfortable for many leaders, and threatening for some.
But is there any other way?