Simon Terry

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Back human potential

Management has challenges on its hands. The traditional pillars of management are breaking down as David Holzmer recently outlined. At the same time the demands on management increase. In seeking a new course we need to engage the creativity of human potential. After all, human potential got us here in the first place.

We must remember in the tens of thousands of years of history of human culture the industrial model of activity covers only the last roughly 150. Industrial management models have been enormously productive and transformed our society. However, it has been at the cost of valuing process over personality. As the industrial model frays we have an opportunity to experiment anew with new more human ways of working.

Reading Mark Pagel’s Wired for Culture has reminded me of the power of the diverse potential of humanity. However to engage this potential we must allow people the latitude to express diverse talents and solutions. Pagel makes the point that:

‘…social learning is to ideas what natural selection is to genes. Both are ways of picking good solutions from a sea of variety’.

We must engage people to experiment with the potential of autonomy, purpose and mastery. We will need people to do this in large numbers, in diverse ways, using diverse talents and with sharing of practice to enable connected social learning. From these approaches new adaptations will be found. There won’t be an easy linear recipe. However, human creativity given its freedom is a powerful problem solving engine.

Organisations go to great effort to hire the most talented employees and to align them to the goals of the organisation. Why not let them use those talents to adapt and change the system? Perhaps it is time to trust in the potential of those well chosen people to create new and better ways of working. Better still connect, enable and hold people accountable for this creativity. Supply the adaptive leadership to help them realise even more.

Back human potential. It is the future of work.


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