Audacity, inventiveness, flexibility, authenticity … Everyone agrees that our companies must reinvent themselves to differentiate themselves.When we talk about innovation, we think strategy, offer, organization and very rarely management, namely the way we animate and the men. Why ?If you discover this article, would you like to work in a company where:
- the missions that are entrusted to you are exciting?
- relationships are authentic and based on trust?
- you have a level of autonomy and sufficient freedom?
- the teams are in solidarity and the collaborations between constructive services?
Is that the case ?
Although 85% of executives believe that innovation is key to staying competitive, companies only spend about 10% of their time [i]. While 54% of employees suggest new ideas to their managers, only 11% of them are taken into consideration [ii].
Management: poor parent of innovation
According to a 2013 Ipsos survey, innovation is entrusted to 72% of the Research & Development, Quality and Marketing functions, which represents between 5 and 8% of the workforce. Would not the other functions be concerned with finding new ideas?
When we talk about innovation, we think first of all about technological innovations or the creation of new offers. Moreover, the rankings of innovative companies are based on the number of patents filed and in this, it is true, France is the 3rd most innovative country in the world [iii].
But very few decision-makers talk about managerial innovation.
And when it is a state of managerial innovation, the evolutions concern above all the organization and the information systems. The “collaborative principles” come last, while it is certainly in this direction that is the true (r) evolution of management .
Indeed, it is not enough to “graft” a new management theory for it to take, it must be accepted by the whole body. While Toyota is a prime example of Lean management , the same can not be said of other companies for which this experience has resulted in a real fiasco. What would be the reason? Simply because, at Toyota, Lean managementis not a method but a philosophy, a way of working and behaving strongly anchored in all employees, regardless of their responsibilities.
History of management: when “always more of the same thing produces the same effects”
If the tools evolve, the managerial paradigms remain unchanged for a century.Admittedly, the hierarchical levels have been reduced but the decision-making processes remain the same (it is always the “leader” who decides). If employees are asked to be more autonomous and proactive, the management tools are always “top down”. Employees are undoubtedly better trained and more competent but we still expect them to stay in the “frame” of their job description. The strategy is still the privilege of governance etc.
Basically, whatever the name that has been assigned to him over the years (boss, chief, executive, leader …) the manager always has for main role to prescribe and control the work of his team (when he has the time).
If the great thinkers of management were still among us (FW Taylor, Fayol H., P. Drucker, E. Deming …), they would doubtless be surprised to see that their models are still relevant while the world has changed dramatically over the last 10 years.
Some would even ask why our companies have retained only the organizational aspects of their recommendations without taking into account the relational dimensions. Did you know that while H. Fayol advocated “the management unit” and “the division of labor”, he also emphasized the importance of “employee initiative” and “staff union”? Why these dimensions have not been incorporated by the majority of French companies?
Compared to the considerable changes in other areas of life (technology, geopolitics …), management seems to be moving at the pace of a snail.
Managerial innovation: from logic to intuition
For almost a century all management models have been developed on the basis of logical thinking: How to increase productivity, gain market share, improve quality and more recently fight against competition by reducing costs? So many questions that have led to rational answers, most often based on statistical and mathematical foundations that constitute the core of the management courses taught in our schools (if we want to increase production, we must hire and if we want reduce expenses, dismiss, QED.
No wonder then that most of our leaders still reason as such because they reproduce what they have been taught by professors, consultants, themselves strongly imbued with this way of thinking (it is enough for you convince them to look at the content of the formations of our elites).
And if companies have integrated the motivational dimension in the 80s, it was primarily to increase productivity (referring to the experience of Western Electric in the 1930s), rarely to contribute to the well-being of their employees. Similarly, the prevention of psychosocial risks is not the initiative of companies but of the government following the media coverage of suicides at France Telecom (although a few companies had committed to this approach before 2009). But basically, does the company have a vocation to make people happy or to earn as much money as possible?
If management is the poor relation of innovation, it is certainly due to the fact that this dimension is the most difficult to evolve (a change of technology takes between 6 and 18 months, a cultural change between 1 and 5 years ). But difficult does not mean impossible because this difficulty does not lie in the ability to open oneself to new ideas but to free oneself from old ideas.
Innovation in management is no longer based on the adoption of concepts straight out of Harvard or thought by great American gurus. On the contrary, the managerial practices described as innovative come from the companies themselves and are more the result of convictions of leaders, bets a little crazy in response to a crisis, common sense, exchanges between people, bold experiments for the most part antagonistic to everything you have known so far for the simple reason that our old models have become ineffective, even counterproductive.
The managerial innovations that you will discover can be classified in the category known as “breakthrough innovation”. They are either antagonistic, ie contrary to current practices (wage increases decided between colleagues, company strategy thought by employees), or “integrative”, that is to say in response to values, ways of thinking and emerging behaviors of our society (self declaration of his mood, valuation of the error …).
Managerial innovation: easier said than done
The first step of managerial innovation is undoubtedly the acceptance that this exercise is very difficult, and this, for 4 main reasons:
1. The anchoring of certainties: it is difficult to question what is considered an absolute truth! Remember, however, that our ancestors were certain that the earth was flat and that the sun was circling our planet and that anyone who disputed these views might pay for it with their lives. The only certainty you can have is that the manager in 2014 has nothing to do with the way the teams were led in 1924 and that the management of the XXII century will be very different from what we know (if any there is still a management mission).
2. Fear: losing control, power, making mistakes. To think otherwise is to take a risk, simply because it is not possible to refer to something existing. And in our country, risk is synonymous with danger. In others, risk-taking is seen as courage and opportunity.
3. Social pressure: Many people give up an idea because it is said to be unrealistic or rejected by others. But managerial innovation is above all a matter of conviction and must not depend on the eyes of others whose tendency is, in our country, rather pessimism (we are the world champions in this area according to a recent poll conducted by Gallup ), criticism and conformism (until there is evidence that it works!).
4. The limits of reasoning: Hard to think otherwise.How to do ? There is a popular belief: creativity is a gift and depends on the personality. Fortunately, this thought is totally wrong. Creativity is an ability, so it can be learned!
Engaging in managerial innovation approaches means first and foremost learning to unlearn.
World tour of innovative managerial practices
According to Benjamin Chaminade, creativity goes through 4 stages. The first is Inspiration. This is why, instead of confusing you with convictions and theories, we preferred to present you some examples of managerial innovations adopted by companies of different sizes, sectors and nationalities. All have one thing in common: they have managed to reconcile fulfillment and performance!
Here are some innovative practices classified in 6 levers according to the order of importance granted by French companies (trust, commitment, well-being, agility, collaboration and creativity).
“The superior man is the one who first puts his words into practice and then speaks according to his actions” – Confucius
“We are not told everything”, “He did not keep his promise”, “It seems that there will be a merger “, “Our competitor has laid off 20% of his employees, when will our turn?” … Unfulfilled promise, uncertain future, obscure changes, opaque information, fear of misjudgment … so many reasons that have, in recent years, created a surge of mistrust within companies. But no point of Seine and profitable collaboration without confidence.
(Re) building trust in companies means meeting a few criteria such as respect for commitments, credibility of management, reliability and transparency of information, congruence between acts and words, and encouragement and expression of dissatisfaction or doubt.
Basically, this simply means, on the one hand, trusting and trusting others. On paper, everyone wants it. But how to achieve it?
3 examples of managerial innovations that build confidence
- In France, Chez Mars Chocolat, Thierry Gaillard, CEO, organizes every 6 weeks a 30-minute meeting, entitled “It’s discussed”, where he answers all questions of employees. This practice is all the more interesting when we know that employees have much less confidence in their leaders than in their direct managers.
- In India, at HCL Technologies, employees can express their doubts and questions via an internal forum called “U & I” (you and me) to the members of the management who undertake to answer, including the CEO, who answers that ‘they do not know. Establishing trust means going through an unavoidable step and not always pleasant for the management: allowing the expression of doubts, fears or criticisms. It is better to channel their expressions than to let them spread in the corridors, around the coffee machine or at the customers’.
- In California, the software publisher Intuit organizes what he calls the “Feast of Defeat” in which chess is referred to as “collectively turning the page” and learning from mistakes. The mistake is human, so why deny it? It is better to accept chess and take advantage of it than to deny it and let it darken the mood and alter confidence.
Commitment and Accountability
“The best manager is the one who knows how to find the talent to do things, and who also knows how to restrain his desire to get involved while they do it” – T. Roosevelt
“It’s not for me to do it”, “I’m not paid for it”, “I said it will not work”, “It’s the accounting fault” … as much which destabilize managers who do not understand why their employees do not invest as much in their work as they do.
Will professional conscience belong to the past?
According to an international Gallup survey, about 11% of employees say they are “engaged” (motivated, voluntary), 61% are “not engaged” (they just do what they are asked to do) and 28% are “actively disengaged” (they have a negative view of their business and can go so far as to defeat its interest if need be.) These figures have not changed much in 10 years.
The sense of responsibility is born with commitment. In other words, I feel responsible for what I decided, not necessarily what we decided for me. However, to be honest, it is rare for employees to decide on their mission or goals. Employees’ leeway lies more in the “how” than in the “what” (definition of the objective by the collaborator).
As long as the collaborators are not fully involved in the definition of what is asked of them, we will maintain an infantilizing managerial system where the manager, as a good father, will reward the successes and punish (either by a lack of reward or by a sanction ) failures, non-conformities or professional inadequacies.
And it is precisely the fear of being “punished” that slows down accountability. This sword of Damocles is very often at the origin of the tensions between managers and collaborators. The concepts “0 defects”, “total quality” or other injunctions to excellence position the employees in a defensive position (it’s not my fault!) While the valuation of the error (provided that it is neither voluntary, nor repetitive) allows a culture of continuous improvement to be instilled (provided that a “climate of trust” has been reinstated beforehand).
3 examples that reinforce commitment and accountability
- In France, at Leroy Merlin, the strategy is developed by employees through numerous meetings integrated into a process called “Vision”. At the start of this project, all employees contributed to the realization of this strategy in this company where “it is good work”. Every employee feels concerned by the realization of this project. No doubt the fact that all Leroy Merlin employees are shareholders in their company also contributes to making everyone feel responsible for the results, the benefits of which are moreover equitably distributed among all employees?
- In the United States, at Morning Star, a tomato processing company with nearly 700 employees, employees negotiate their objectives with each other, based on their respective ideas and what they think is good for their company.No leader to tell them what to do. These negotiations lead to “contracts of engagement” accessible to all employees. This practice differs from the setting of objectives because the authors of these commitments are the actors who will implement them.
- In France, the airline Air France introduced a few years ago a “charter of non-punishment of the error”. After realizing and accepting that one of the main causes of accidents and incidents was caused by humans, and taking into account the consequences, this airline decided to encourage its employees to express (anonymously) their errors and report dysfunctions in return for which it undertook not to sanction when the errors were revealed and assumed. The only sanction envisaged concerns employees who have not reported their mistakes.
Pleasure and well-being
“Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a single day of your life” – Confucius
“It is true that my job is not very exciting but it allows me to feed my family”, “I went around my job, what do you propose to me?”, “My manager is not motivating “… If about 80% of French people are satisfied with their working conditions (local, hourly, level of autonomy …) [iv], only 20% consider their work as a source of pleasure [v]. Perhaps it is because 46% of French people do not work in the desired function [vi]?
What is the interest of a company in having its employees happy at work?
Before the media coverage of suicides in 2009, well-being at work was not really a concern of the leaders. And if companies have been motivated to motivate their staff, it is probably to increase performance, not really for their well-being. These words may seem shocking. And yet, in our society, it seems that the social is still serving the economy, and not the other way around.
But contrary to what we think, the improvement of the working conditions act on the satisfaction, they do not increase the pleasure to work.
But who is responsible for the pleasure felt by each employee? The company? The employee ? Both ? A priori, everything depends initially on what the employee is looking for.
According to our studies, pleasure at work is mainly based on 2 factors:
- The content of the activities and the responsibilities entrusted to them,
- friendliness and good atmosphere between colleagues.
If the company can act on this second factor, the first depends on the feeling felt by the employee to carry out his missions. It is therefore an endogenous factor that is the sole professional choice of the employee (while too many employees feel that it is up to the company to make them happy).
Therefore, well-being and pleasure at work can not be at the sole initiative of the employer.
This is a co-responsibility.
3 examples of practices that enhance well-being and pleasure at work
- In Brazil, workers at Fiat’s factories declare their mood every morning when they take their job: green, hopefully; orange, if he is moderately motivated and red if he encounters a problem. Employees who declare themselves in red are then received by a manager and a specialist in the HR function (about 80% of workers declare themselves in red once a year). This practice is particularly interesting insofar as the company authorizes and entrusts the responsibility for the declaration of a malaise to the employee (and not to the management).
- In the United States, within the company WL Gore (nearly 8,000 employees), new hires have a few weeks to go around the projects and choose the teams they would like to work with based on the pleasure that they feel to contribute to the project. Successful teams can accept or reject the application. This practice clearly highlights the two principles of pleasure at work, namely the interest of work and belonging to a group in which one feels good.
- In France, at Euro Disneyland Paris, this company of about 15,000 employees has set up a “Municipal Council” made up of volunteer employees in charge of finding solutions to the “daily hassles” detected by “neighborhood animators”. information). This community meets 4 times a year outside the institutional meetings supervised by social regulations.
Agility & Freedom
“A company without order is unable to survive, but a business without disorder is unable to evolve” B. Nadoulek
“Sorry, Mr. Customer, I can not answer you, this decision depends on the seat and I do not have the information”, “We always did like that, why change?”, “Here it is Versailles, no Collaborator has no real autonomy, all decisions are centralized in the Management Committee “. Most of our companies are still organized according to the good old principles of Taylorism , namely an organization structured by trades, a centralized decision-making power, framed by post cards resulting from a long-negotiated classification, the absolute respect of the procedures which the compliance is entrusted to the hierarchical authority.
What some leaders are not aware of is that this mode of operation was perfectly suited to a linear and predictable world but becomes counterproductive in an increasingly complex, constantly changing and unpredictable society.
Total quality, control of costs, risks … The level of precision of what needs to be done and the resulting formalism (rules, procedures, forms …), as well as the associated control and reporting tools obviously to guarantee compliance but generate a level of rigidity and bureaucracy that hinder the responsiveness of our companies.
Worse, those who would like to free themselves from these channels admit their inability to do so, constrained by the multitude of standards imposed either by the state, or by their sector or their customers (ISO, public market, CSR, Solvency, Basel …).
And yet, the difference between competing companies is now largely based on their ability to be reactive or even proactive. They need to free themselves from old management methods, founders of beautiful gas plants, and get back to common sense (focus on value-creating activities), simplicity (reduce the number of procedures and hunt activities without added value) …), resourcefulness (learning to do more with less, starting from constraints …), modifying their structures (organization by client or product), offering more freedom in the way of carrying out missions (nomadism, telecommuting) …) by giving meaning, mobilizing around shared values to focus primarily on results.
3 examples of practices that reinforce agility and freedom
- In France, under the leadership of Colonel Marlot, director of the Saone-et-Loire Fire Brigade Center (about 2,500 people), a “territorial intelligence network” (RIA) was set up, in addition to the institutional organization chart. The purpose of this body is to mobilize “intelligence of the crowds.” Also, those who participate in it agree to leave their grades, functions, and seniority at the beginning of the meeting in order to guarantee maximum freedom of expression.
- In Brazil, within Semco (more than 3,000 employees), employees who want it (about 75%) are free to set their own salaries, which are often above the local SMIC , to come to work. when they wish, to organize themselves as they wish, provided, however, to commit to a result and achieve it. The counterpart of this freedom? Respect his commitment. And for those who have fun not to do it, they will be accountable, not to their hierarchy but to the whole company.
- In France, at Poult, to cope with an alarming financial situation in 2007, employees have decided to get rid of some support missions (time management, inventory …), to share them in addition to their missions in order to refocus on the creation of new values. Reporting has been simplified and everyone is free to explore new ideas and share them without hierarchical or functional constraints with colleagues.
“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges” – I. Newton
“Explain to me why the direction speaks to us of solidarity while each director spends his time defending his territory”, “With an organization in silos, it’s not surprising that everyone stays in their corner”, “We grew up so much quickly that we do not know who is who in this house “,” Here, it is each one for oneself “. The division of labor does not only have the effect of curbing agility, it also alters the relationship.
It is common to note a phenomenon of “staring” of certain functions which can sometimes go as far as the introduction of a kind of competition between trades. This effect is accentuated by budgetary restrictions (each function must “defend its parish”) or individual reward policies (why was he promoted and not me when I worked better?).
The primacy of the result, the compartmentalization induced by the division of labor, the bureaucratic predominance and the centralization of power have altered the quality of collaboration.
Managerial innovation consists in recreating links, proximity, mobilizing collective intelligence, allowing everyone to express themselves, giving an opinion on a process, a person, strengthening the links between entities and creating moments of conviviality within service, between departments and at the level of the entire company.
There are many ways to find what has been lost: collaborative spaces, team coaching, co-development workshops, “live my life”, extended evaluations or “open innovation”.Because collaboration is not limited to the company, it now extends to relationships with partners, customers or even competitors (concept of coopetition).
3 examples of practices that reinforce collaboration and cohesion
- In the United States, at Zappos, this online shoe sales company with 2,000 employees grew up so fast that people did not know each other anymore.Anxious to preserve the conviviality and the proximity between its teams, its CEO, Tony Hsieh, has developed a computer application which consists in presenting, when connecting to his computer every morning, a photo of a collaborator and ask to choose between 3 names. Once the choice is made (whether it is good or not, it does not matter) the employee’s presentation sheet appears. This practice, unique in the world, makes it possible to reinforce the knowledge of the employees in a context of strong development or distance of the workforce.
- In India, at HCL Technologies, an IT services company with around 80,000 employees, its CEO, Vineet Nayar, has instituted a device called “Feed Forward”.On the basis of volunteering, everyone can communicate, when he wants it, a feedback on the skills he appreciates and the ones he advises to develop / strengthen in a colleague with whom he has been working, without as much fit into a formal process. This approach is anonymous and obviously benevolent.The idea is, after having stated the positive aspects, to allow a volunteer collaborator to benefit from a mirror effect on his career development axes outside the traditional hierarchical evaluations.
- In France, SNCF instituted a “managerial community” via a portal accessible to all supervisors. Within this portal, managers can share a problem, discuss their practices and even dial a direct telephone number to receive support or advice from an expert other than his manager. This practice is particularly interesting in companies where managers are so compartmentalised in their functions that they find themselves alone in dealing with managerial situations that they can not find solutions. It reinforces the links between managers who share common issues, although they have different jobs. The opportunity to share among fellow supervisors also allows greater transparency in trade, which is not necessarily the case with the hierarchy (fear of being frowned upon, sensitivity of certain topics …).
Creativity & Innovation
“The difficulty is not to understand new ideas but to escape old ideas” JM Keynes
“I never return from my hierarchy concerning the ideas that I propose to him”, “Anyway my ideas, I will propose them elsewhere because here we are not asked to be sheep”, “J ‘ I understand, I do not propose anything because each time my manager appropriates my idea “,” We are asked to be innovative but we do not give us time to think. And yet, everyone knows that nowadays the difference is played out on the ability of a company to differentiate itself from its competitors by innovation.
Governances preach audacity, creativity, “out of the box” but do not change their practices and management methods.
Many have engaged in the implementation of platforms for the expression of ideas but management rules are still too framed, opinions are entrusted to experts who sometimes judge based on their experience and not “weak signals” and emerging trends. Is risk control incompatible with daring? Why is innovation still exclusively entrusted to the research and development functions? What prevents companies from opening to the greatest number the expression of ideas?
Innovation is a spatiotemporelle approach:
- “Spatio”: innovation must be multifunctional and open to the greatest numberbecause everyone can have good ideas, whatever their job, status or experience. It is more about mobilizing the “wisdom of the crowds” than restricting the search for new ideas to the experts. Opening up to as many people as possible allows for an iteration process that allows people to feed each other (one idea leads to another that leads to another …). Did you know that the idea of using a card in hotel rooms to avoid electricity costs comes from a cleaning man?
- “Temporal”: ideas come up at any time, whether during or outside working hours (in the shower, in transport, in the cinema …). Therefore, restricting the exploration of new ideas to a 2-hour meeting is no longer meaningful.
Finally, the less you set a “frame”, the more you increase the probability of accessing the serendipity (finding an idea that was not looked for or by mistake, such as the post-it, the microwave or penicillin again). As paradoxical as it may seem, it is often when we do not seek that we find …
3 examples of practices that promote creativity and innovation
- In France, at Orange(only operator who has not been hit by the wave Free – chance or coincidence?), employees can freely express their ideas via a social innovation system called IdClic. The process allows any employee, regardless of status, seniority or job to submit an idea on an engagement platform. The idea is studied by volunteer experts (about 5,000). If it is not archived (no idea is considered bad), it is the subject of a feasibility study with an estimate of net gains. Once put into operation (the author of the idea is part of the project) it can be, according to the benefits, deployed at the national level. The collaborator is assigned talents (virtual money) that he will use in a “dedicated shop. Since 2007, 1/3 of employees have submitted an idea (about 122,000 ideas submitted). 10% was deployed generating several hundreds of millions of savings that could not have been caused otherwise.
- In the United States, at 3M, the company still practices the principle of 80/20.Initiated in the 1930s, its CEO at the time, William McKnight, had a credo: “Hire the right people, and let them do it.” This is why he has introduced a practice to allow employees who wish to spend about 20% of their time (1 day per week) to work on projects of their choice (outside the hierarchy) . This approach led to products such as the post-it invented by 2 chemists employees in 1974 (3M now sells more than 600 post-it products). This practice was later taken over by other companies such as Google or Atlassian.
- In the United States, seeing an increase in criticism of its products on the web, the CEO of DELL,Michael DELL decided in 2007 to create an internet platform, called IdeaStorm, through which he asked users to post the criticisms they wanted to make to his products. This approach, certainly audacious and courageous (not very Frenchy given our aversion to failure and mistakes), has allowed this company to identify the causes of dissatisfaction in order to provide solutions. The second step was to involve customers in the search for new ideas, what is now called “open innovation”. Some ideas were selected from the suggested 9,000. This initiative also helped reconnect with customers. To find new ideas, it is necessary to widen the scope of suggestions outside the company. To tell the truth, who does notwould not like to contribute graciously to the growth of a company that we appreciate when there is no personal issue. Are not these the beginnings of the “gift of ideas”? But Dell is not alone in this path. Companies such as Lego, IBM or Auchan are in the game.
The 5 steps to reinvent his management
1. Really and sincerely feel the need to change
There are 2 main reasons why companies engage in this type of approach:
- The first is in response to a danger, a crisis or a major constraint that calls into question the sustainability of the company as was the case for Poult, Lego or IBM.
- The second is the result of a conviction of an “iconoclastic” leader such as Bill Gore, Vineet Nayar, Ricardo Semler or Jean-François Zobrist.
Whatever the case may be, and given the impact that this will have on all the players in the company, the questioning of managerial practices must not be a fad. We can see the inefficiency of some collaborative tools when governance does not really want it.
2. Communicate openly and transparently with intent
Managerial innovation is above all cultural. It impacts the values, the beliefs, the behaviors and generally modifies in depth the practices inherited from the last century (to be evaluated by unknowns as it is practiced at HCLT has something to disturb if one does not adhere to the state of benevolent spirit underpinned by this approach).
To gain acceptance, it is important to be as clear as possible about the reasons for this evolution, to explain its ambition and to communicate them with authenticity and transparency in order to invite employees to get involved in this development, as the did Leroy Merlin with his vision project.
Of course, this will provoke reactions from the most skeptical, but it is better to deal with reactions than to be moderate about his vision. From experience, people who do not adhere to this new vision (including executives) will have no choice but to leave the company. Zappos has put in place a process of integrating its new employees during which it presents the company. After one week, new hires are subject to a choice: either stay in the company or leave the company with an exceptional bonus of $ 2,000 (they will not receive if they decide to resign more later). This practice aims to encourage new employees to position themselves on their level ofadherence to the operation and corporate culture.
3. Create the need for change
This step is to allow and encourage the expression of problems that everyone knows but are rarely mentioned openly (What prevents us from …? What difficulties do we encounter?). In other words, the company should invite employees to formulate their problems, dissatisfactions, objections or doubts, and then respond to them, as HCLT has done through its U & I system.
Some questions may remain unanswered. Regardless, the most important thing is not to find the right solution, but to change the culture so as to turn the problems into opportunities for improving the existing.
The most important thing at this stage is to concentrate the problems and dissatisfactions in a dedicated space in order to gradually have control rather than let them spread in the corridors or around the coffee machine.
To support this dynamic, it is better to prepare managers (via a seminar or working groups) to adopt a new posture and especially to leave the costume of omniscience to endorse that of “manager coach” (support and support) .
To release the word supposes 2 qualities. First of all, courage. It is not easy for management to hear criticisms and be challenged. But criticism is not necessarily a judgment. It can also be a starting point for a renewal. We must accept that everything is not perfect or that what was an asset in the past may become a limit for the future.
The second quality is humility,to accept and accept the principle that management does not know everything. The myth of the omniscient manager is at the origin of many problems in our companies (demotivation of the manager, avoidance of certain problems, criticism of collaborators, disempowerment following an error …). Dare to tell his team that we do not know but that we intend to find a solution together is extremely liberating experience for managers … and employees.
4. Mobilize collective intelligence
Solving problems or finding new ideas no longer depends on models developed by renowned consultants (there are more) but is now based on the ability of companies to bring out and promote the ideas of as many people as possible.
This step is to expand the “scope of ideas” at all levels of the company. It supposes to emancipate itself from the paradigm according to which only the experts or the hierarchy have good ideas.
Companies such as Orange, Google or Lego have been able to innovate by allowing as many people as possible to express their ideas through dedicated IT systems, either internal (IdClic Orange, GoogleIdeas …) or external (IdeaStorm from Dell, Lego Mindstorm …).
It is common that this step generates a certain resistance on the part of the management which is seen to somehow dispossess of its power of initiative, even decisional. This was the case for a large company whose CEO validated an idea expressed by a technician who questioned a project of a leader (and that has made millions of his company).
Everyone will not want to play the game but it is not your goal. Your goal is to enable your allies and those with ideas to express themselves and get involved in your project. Let’s not forget that the goal of the game is to convert the 61% of uncommitted into committed. Leave the opponents where they are. When the “critical mass of success” is reached, opponents of the new managerial culture will have no choice but to join or resign. The strength of the collective is clearly greater than that of the status.
5. Institute communities
Decompartmentalization without modifying the organization chart is achieved by the establishment of “communities of engagement”. In other words you can mobilize your collaborators, on a voluntary basis (it is essential), on a certain number of themes, whether to reinforce the links or the sharing of experiences around common missions, such as the SNCF with its “managerial community”, problems without known solutions, as the practice SDIS 71, experiments like Facebook does or to create friendliness around extra-professional subjects, as it is the case at Accenture.
In addition to decompartmentalization, this approach helps to strengthen agility by connecting voluntary and benevolent employees. It represents a good opportunity for companies that would be hampered by actors resistant to change.
Reinventing his management: the real false good reasons not to do it
While most companies admit to being seduced by some or all of these innovations, the vast majority is declining when it comes to engaging in the reinvention of their practices, on the grounds that:
- “they are not ready yet” (when they will be, will not it be too late?),
- “at home it’s different” (how do you meet other companies and list the common points, you will find that, if the trades are not the same, the modes of collaboration are almost identical),
- “it will be difficult to change mentalities” (this is the challenge),
- ” Staff representative bodies will most certainly oppose changes in managerial practices” (why would staff representatives have a problem in reinforcing the well-being, trust, autonomy or cohesion of those they represent? )
- “We do not have a budget” (how to ask employees to evaluate their managers requires money?)
HRD, a major player in managerial innovation. Yes but how ?
If innovation is traditionally dedicated to the research & development function, the management of changes, reforms, managerial revolutions will most probably be entrusted to the human resources function, as was the case for social / societal accountability or more recently for management. psychosocial risks.
However, while the professionals of the HR function were supported by the evolution of social regulations ( National Interprofessional Agreement against stress, Obligation to come on professional maintenance every 2 years …) or the legitimacy of concepts beyond Atlantic ( SWOT matrix, SMART objective, reengineering …), it will not be the same with regard to managerial innovation, on the contrary, because the changes will be specific to each company, depending on the gap between its current culture and his ambition for change.
The questioning of current practices will certainly be initially poorly perceived by a number of actors in the company. Some leaders will not accept even their modified authority, some experts will not live well the fact that everyone can put a nose in their practices, some social partners will fear to see their representativeness evaporate at the expense of a rapprochement between supervisors and collaborators, some quality experts will oppose a “non-conformity” with the principles of quality, the organizers will dispute the removal of the tools they have taken years to implement and some lawyers will trigger the red alert with regard to the labor code, conventions collective agreements or company agreements.
In short, this change will undoubtedly be the most difficult that the HRD will have to pilot, simply because this discipline comes to contradict many managerial paradigms strongly anchored for more than a century.
If the human resources function will be entrusted with the management of these (r) evolutions, it will not be able to position itself as an expert, as was the case for classifications, competency frameworks or evaluation procedures. Its role will be mainly to create the conditions of a cultural reform, to federate, to encourage, to reassure, to facilitate, to support and to value the successes, to relativize the failures.
HRDs will have to be exemplary and gradually give way to convinced leaders who will become the main “masters on board” and ambassadors of new practices, more democratic, more collaborative.
They will have to demonstrate both audacity and humility, enthusiasm and patience, structuring and flexibility and especially inventiveness to drive this transformation. But is not that what was the purpose of this function?
[i] 2013 IFOP Survey
[ii] 2013 Accenture / Right.com Survey
[iii] Behind US and Japanese by Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators of October 2013
[iv] October TNS-Sofres Survey 2010
[v] February 2012 Ipsos-Endered
Survey [vi] December 2010 Stepstone Survey