So what do we know? Could it help you?
1. We think we know a few things about the context of our time. By 2010, tomorrow, we will live through the convergence of a powerful series of vectors that will make staying as we are impossible. While we have mentioned 4 vectors in the Vice that we are sure of, we have not added any environmental or extraordinary factor such as war, a financial bifurcation or an energy crisis. Our point is that we do not have to be right in any detail about these vectors to know that we live in times that are so complex as to be beyond the prediction of mortal man. Only organizations and individuals that are exceptional at reading the times and reacting to them will survive.
2. We are prisoners of our mindsets Our mindsets affect two critical paths. They affect our relational culture or how we as individuals fit into an organization or into society. Currently we are locked into a parental command and control pattern which is evidenced by the corporate voice. This voice is not human and most people know that it is not real. At one end it is the voice of spin and the other the voice of dependency. Only organizations and individuals that speak with a human voice, that have conversations, will learn enough to keep up and to attract the best of the best. We know that the only way to change these voices is to use a facilitator. We are too embedded to do this on our own. We know that only if we can change our voice can we "see" enough to consider changing our operational doctrine.
3. Only a change in operational doctrine will complete the transformation. It was when Fisher did both in Dreadnought that 60 years of technical development in the Victorian Navy bore fruit. eBay would be our Dreadnought today.
4. There are no silver bullets. There are a number of good tools. What is needed above all is an understanding of the context and great leadership. We found many good tools at CIBC, in the US Army and at BP, But the key is not tools per se but intellectual and moral leadership. We are still bemused that most of the research that tells us that command and control is the problem, is not widely know. We suspect that it is easier to act using the conventional wisdom than to do the work to find out what science has to offer. Our greatest risk is to confuse action with understanding and acting for the sake of acting with courage.
Which brings us back to our beginning. Like the medieval world, we seem attracted to a set of beliefs that have no foundation except that they are conventional wisdom. We continue to discuss the issue of "workload" as if this is the accepted definition of the problem. We mandate managers to be supportive, without seeing the irony. We continue to see health as a product of physical issues which only require the application of medicine to be cured. We see being competitive in the future as about the application of technology alone. We think that knowledge is a thing. This is "Alchemy". None of these beliefs have any basis in observation, science or reality.
Science tells us that stress in the workplace is directly related to lack of voice and powerlessness. Science tells us that hierarchy is an essential part of nature and cannot be replaced but that its character can be changed. Science tells us that we cannot change ingrained behaviour by fiat but only by the gentle modelling of a peer or a facilitator. Science tells us that health is driven by our immune system which in in turn is driven by our coping ability which in turn is driven by how supportive our social environment is. Science tells us that to competitive a species or a group or an individual has to be able to observe, learn and adapt to changes in their environment. This is the chemistry of human relations. They are based in rigour and in observation and have been established for many years.
So maybe there is a silver bullet. You can choose to stick with Alchemy or you can choose Chemistry.