So, the final tension. Increasing participation, working through open processes and making everything more transparent, and talking about Reinventing Organisations could be seen as a direct challenge to managers and individuals that hold power. One good friend, who works in a military style environment gave me clear feedback – you never break the chain of command!
Whilst open conversations include managers in the discussion, it bypasses them as the primary relationship within teams. Also, the process that I followed did not assume the management team as the location for the final judgement about what would happen. Increasing participation can feel dangerous and unaccountable. Who is making a decision and who is accountable if it is a collective process that reaches conclusions and judgements. If you were being blunt in assessment of this, you might ask who we can blame if something goes wrong.
I believe this tension lies at the heart of the changes as we move to a more adult-to-adult relationship between people at work. It affects everyone. From those looking to managers to make a decision on their behalf, to the managers who hold their status as central to their own personal identity – we need to be more patient. These are people and lives in the middle of this, and collectively there is a massive shift to make – and I absolutely hold my own actions and behaviours as part of this. There are actions I took that within the existing context of how control was distributed that could have been more sensitive to the impact on certain individuals.
In any change process there will be a range of different responses. The more critical views were predominantly by those in power and this was something I did not specifically address. I thought that I would have time to create enough positive change to be able to demonstrate and show rather than trying to explain more conceptually.