The 2020 manager, as we imagined it in 2012
From 2012 onwards, as consultants, we were often asked the following question: “what will the 2020 manager be?”
We organized collaborative seminars with groups of managers, complete training/transformation programs. We came to the following conclusion: the world is becoming uncertain and complex, and in this context, the 2020 manager will have to be collaborative, agile and benevolent. He will have to promote the right to make mistakes and develop empowerment for his teams. We were also talking about how to link individual and collective interests.
I was looking forward to 2020 and to meeting the 2020 manager! I was curious to find out how we would manage to create the alchemy between the individual and the collective.
We are now in 2021. I met the 2020 manager! He is actually quite similar to the 2012 manager, yet many things have changed: the world has really become VUCA.
2021, shifting the focus
Everything looks like a nail to the one who has only a hammer. Abraham Maslow
With my eyes today, I feel like in 2012 we had the right answers, but not the right question.
We were identified as a management consulting firm, because we had to fit into the existing boxes. Our interlocutors were HRDs, transformation directors or talent managers. Their mission was to prepare managers for their future role.
We were at their side to support them in their project. We responded to the order which seemed to us to be quite relevant, without questioning it: ‘mobilize the managers of the company to define the manager of tomorrow’. We were addressing a public of managers. The idea was that managers would then ‘cascade’ to their team.
These approaches were very useful to have collective awareness and make shared diagnoses and recommendations. However, it was always difficult to really take action on a daily basis.
The power remained concentrated in the hands of the managers and could not be transferred to the team, despite good intentions. With a few years of hindsight, I can finally see the blind spots and paradoxes that were holding back this transition.
- How can we develop agility and collective intelligence …. by only reinforcing managers’ practices?
- How to empower employees and teams …. by isolating a group of managers?
- How to develop the power of teams…. without addressing the teams themselves.
To take action: practices and roles
If all the wise men in the world gather around a table to play Monopoly, in the end there will be only one winner and all the others will be robbed. – Sociocracy’s saying.
To give substance to the intention of shifting power to the teams, it is necessary to change the rules of the game. This requires changes in practices.
Practices from collective intelligence and self-organization allow to concretely give protection and permission to distribute power. Let’s take the example of the practice called “decision by request for advice” (as described by Frederic Laloux in his Re-inventing Organisation). Everyone in the organization is authorized to decide if he or she feels the need to do so, provided that he or she first goes through a request for advice. To do this, they must identify the people concerned by the issue and the experts on the subject in order to ask their opinion on the proposed decision. Informed by these views, he then makes his decision.
To enable practices to take root in the organization, the role of the facilitator has gradually become central. The facilitator knows the practices, knows how to choose them and apply them in the organization for the benefit of the manager, the team and, above all, the issues.
To develop the team of tomorrow, the role of the manager needs to be accompanied by the role of the facilitator.
The challenge today is to prepare the teams to serve the organization, rather than just prepare the managers. How do you feel about this transition? I would be pleased to read you and exchange on this topic.