Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Management Rewired

This morning I finished reading Management Rewired ( website ). I like both management books and brain/mental model books. This book is both. The brain analysis is slightly filtered as the book is written by a experienced management guy who has done reading of the research rather than directly from the researchers. This is more than compensated for by the management insight provided by his years of consulting.

Our conditioning towards Aristotelian logic traps our thinking to believe that we can rule by fear, intimidation and force, that aggression can be met by aggression. The brains ability to absorb dissonance and warp input to match expectations keeps us trapped. Only when confronted by a sufficiently large shift will this action of expectation matching be overwhelmed and then the process of finding a new model will begin.

We can force this shift by extreme changes in the rules of the game. The biblical command to "turn the other cheek," works in this regard. By refusing to escalate violence, we demonstrate the irrationality of escalation. From within the system, escalation seems like the only option. To allow other options, we must change the rules of the system. This book recognizes the dolphin experiment, we have Pavlo's later experiments on changing mental conditioning, we have the "hit bottom" approach of AA: all of these require extreme measures. Forcing the participant to the edge of their system so they have no choice but to reinvent.

We can also trigger the same reaction through story telling. This is easier to manage, simpler and less threatening. Here-in lies the difference between Leadership and Management, claims our author. In his view, the manager is interested in incremental changes through a process of reward and punishment. The leader is a story teller who sees a new and different outcome and rallies those around him to internalize the vision and lead themselves to the new outcome. This is not a trivial problem.

Our author does include a 5 step list of requirements for our game-changing story. More on that tonight when I update this article.

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