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The bridge between learning and taking actions with management models : learn from the “outliers”

The topic of new management models described in the different “Methodologies” such as Enterprise, Strategic and Organisational agility, Business and digital transformation has been widely explained and discusses.

There is an element that has be used by business literature to enhance the “outliers” company that revolutionized their organisations and they have created either enthusiasm or fear about the huge radical change they required. I want to advice about the way to use these examples of radical change to “learn”, picking up some parts of their practices.

We have been overwhelmed by arguments and discussions about new management models, with a peak during the pandemic and soon after, and it is increasing now for some industries and big companies. With Agility, business, and digital transformation, even with radical approaches, flatter organisation or no hierarchy models have been shared as new solutions (also radical ones i.e. Haier , its chairman Z.Ruimin, and learning from Professor Gary Hamel with the book,”Humanocracy”)

The first reaction from decision makers is curiosity, stimulated about the benefits of the different management models. The second one is an almost immediate dismissal from them in terms of acceptance for several reasons:

A. lack of awareness of the functioning of a transformation towards non-classic systems

B. Lack of awareness of how things work during and after the shift from Hierarchy based systems to different ones.

The first gap if to forget why these shifts are required.

The second one is how to get and absorb other companies’ results.

it has been found in several studies and during my interviews with CEOs, MD and Directors, that executives, are trying to figure out why they do what they do. This is a great way to practice critical reflection. But In essence, there is a strong tendency to reaffirm the current situation from that perspective. And for medium and large companies there is an immediate reaction that some examples from the so called “outliers” come from much bigger realities than their organisational structures, thus not really applicable to their dimensions.

It can be said that among the diverse case studies from outliers, what is overlooked is the common element of the radical new approach to employee empowerment. And here what is missed is the process of analysing, observing, and applying what is applicable to their organisations.

Another critical element is related to a reactive instead of reflective learning process.

When learning from outliers, focus should be on the principles rather than the practice. Why? As opposed to simply copying or imitating another company, the right thing to do would be to take what they are doing and ask if we understand their oppositive logic contrasting to the classic one.

It’s not just a matter of copying /imitating and adapting, successful actions of others, but understanding the underlying principles and applying them to your own situation, answering to these questions:

● Are we able to adapt that to our organization?

● If yes, how ?

There is a bridge between learning and actions to be undertaken.

A meaningful integrative approach to the critical reflection is to start thinking about the roadblocks which slow down our process to do something instead of nothing.

Secondly without going into behavioural (i.e., leadership styles) or psychological aspects of a decision-making process to start a journey, our initiative for Competitive advantages and new management models, round table series, aims to, to increase the awareness of benefits in terms of values and competitive aspects and to expose doubts, constrains but also ideas to be compared with other peers which can prevent the journey starting.

Learning is both based on training and on some outliers approaches to be analysed as we examined above, and the ways (actions within functional and strategic boundaries) which can happen from the removal of “resistance” barriers while increasing awareness.

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