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Bruce Holland

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This is the third Snippet examining the Grand Unified Theory (G.U.T.s) of business. In the last two Snippets I have painted a different way of looking at your organisation (a system poised at a state of criticality), what's important to it (feedback, memory, energy, openness, simple rules, trust), and how it fits into its ecosystem (like a beanbag).

Some of you have written back basically agreeing with G.U.T.s but unsure about what it means to you as a manager. This attempts to answer some of these concerns.

In G.U.T.s, the key skills required are so different, that I couldn't resist calling the snippet...

The Manager Is Dead!

From reporting lines to supporting lines

G.U.T.s is important because, if you look at the world in this way, self management makes sense. Traditional management is about the body and the head. It's about controlling, limiting, organising and directing ... all things people can do on their own. They do it in every other part of their life, so why not at work? I have yet to find anyone worth their salt, who really likes to be managed. On the other hand leadership is about body, head, heart and soul. We all need leadership and we need it even more under G.U.T.s. Leadership is a move from being on top and telling people what to do ... to being beside, supporting and encouraging, helping them obtain the skills and the resources they require to be far more successful than they thought possible.

It's a refocus, from managing the work ... To managing the workplace. The key leadership challenge is to create an environment where people can contribute to their potential.

From head to immune system

Traditionally senior managers have been seen as the HEAD of the organisation, they are expected to intervene, exercise judgement and influence over the organisation, and they are rewarded and held accountable for how well the organisation performs (often every quarter).

Under G.U.T.s everyone is part of the HEAD. Of course managers still think and make decisions but so does everyone else. The things that managers think about and make decisions on may tend to be longer term things, make or break things, and things external to the organisation, but this is only a matter of degree.

It may be more appropriate to think of senior managers as the IMMUNE SYSTEM of the organisation. The role of the immune system is to determine the identity, pattern and survivability of the body, deciding which of the more than a trillion possible proteins are foreign and which are self. Every few months every cell in the body is turned over and yet a pattern continues on that only changes over many years. Managers need to define the pattern, decide what matters and what does not, what belongs and what does not. For example: What business are we in? What are our core competencies? What is our personality? This is especially important when markets and technology are changing quickly.

From a book full of rule to three simple rules

Managers under G.U.T.s tag things that matter, then they focus on those things, talk about them and get other people focused on them too. As we said in the previous Snippet, the things that matter under G.U.T.s (feedback, information, energy, relationships and three simple rules) are significantly different from what traditionally matters. This is simple to say but devilishly hard to achieve. For example to get a self managing group of people to emerge into a high performing team, all the manager has to do is to get each person to live by two or three simple rules such as Think of your customer and do what's sensible. It sounds simple but getting people to do it takes great leadership and trust.

From filling jobs to releasing talent

Traditionally, managers fill jobs. In G.U.T.s, jobs are often seen as limiting (putting people into boxes) and disempowering (It's not my job). In G.U.T.s, selecting for talent is an important responsibility ... identify talent and putting it to work. Managers know people don't change that much; they don't waste time trying to build weaknesses, rather they build on strengths that are already there, then they combine those strengths into clusters of people with the required strength to do work. In G.U.T.s managers have an important boundary spanning role. They help individuals and teams get information and other resources from outside, they bring individuals and teams together so that they can interact and learn from each other.

Getting started

Finally, in G.U.T.s it's over to top managers to help the organisation move towards the sweet spot. This usually means opening up the organisation, removing barriers, breaking down walls, increasing communications and helping people establish a different mental image about how the organisation could be. Only managers can do this. It is almost impossible for people at the grass roots to change from a traditional business model to a G.U.T.s business model on their own. The leadership can only come from senior management and/or the Board.

Do have the G.U.T.S to do it?

Sometimes working with someone who has been through it before is important.

Give me a call on Phone +6421620456 or Skype Bruce.Holland.



Bruce Holland

Helps large organisations be focussed, fast and flexible. Places where people have more meaning, depth and connection.

Expert in Strategy, Structure, Culture and Leadership Development.

One of NZ's most experienced change agents.

Liberating the Human Spirit at Work

Key words: Leadership, leadership development, leadership management, leadership training, leadership program, leadership skills

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