Why should an organization adopt Agile Lean Leadership (ALL)? What main values or outcomes can organizations expect? Here is a bird’s eye view of the claims:
It is our claim that such an organization will be much more capable of facing the challenges in the modern world. The complexity of constant changes in markets and technology does not allow organizations to rely on predefined plans any more, too many external events disrupt. An organization following the ALL pattern will have a number of beneficial characteristics, it will be:
- Effective, it can find the right solutions to challenges and create overall value, not just sub-optimize.
- Agile and fast, it can “turn on a dime for a dime”.
- Sustainable, it has long term perspective on value creation and relationships; it can be trusted.
- Resilient, it can recover and regain momentum effectively if thrown off-course.
Such an organization is constantly learning, and therefore changing. This is much harder for people working there, but also much more rewarding. Such an organization is consequently particularly sensitive to provide psychological safety for people and create a climate of trust, where feedback and new ideas are welcome.
An important part of psychological safety is to know what is expected of you; it follows that an ALL organization has very clear roles, simple operating procedures and fully transparent artifacts showing goals, progress and impediments. The organization however also has a very precise capability of reacting if something unexpected happens; escalation is clear. The leadership has renounced the use of fear as a leadership instrument.
In an ALL organization the most important ingredient is the engagement by the people. Responsibility and mandate is pushed as far out in the organization as we can find people who can carry it. So among people a number of benefits among others are seen:
- Much higher morale, people take responsibility voluntarily.
- Teamwork, an intuitive sharing of information and helping out.
- Goal seeking, since all know and share the goals a much stronger gravitation towards the goals is experienced.
- Intrinsic motivation, people want to work for a higher cause and vision, have certain autonomy over their own work and they want to experience mastery, or as W. Edwards Deming said: “Pride of workmanship”.
The stakeholders experience greater satisfaction with the organization, thus generating greater loyalty towards it, also in times of turmoil.
- Customers, experience a focus on serving them and transparency in operation.
- Employees, experience that they are valued and trusted individuals, not just expendable resources.
- Owners and investors, among these shareholders experience consistency in purpose, higher transparency and lower risk, as the organization will focus on long term value not short term speculative gains.
- Society at large, good relationships within an organization spill over to the rest of society, the organization can be trusted.
This is not just airy-fairy romanticism and latter-days hippie philosophy. The patterns are supported by solid empirical evidence. It is however a change from imperial Napoleonic leadership to that of servant leadership and short term speculative expediency for the few to long term balanced value for all parties.