The New Work of Leaders


Our traditional view of leaders—as special people who set the direction, make key decisions, and energize the troops—is deeply rooted in an individualistic and nonsystematic worldview. Especially in the West, leaders are heroes—great men (and occasionally women) who rise to the fore in times of crisis. So long as such myths prevail, they reinforce a focus on short-term events and charismatic heroes rather than on systematic forces and collective learning.

Leadership in learning organizations centers on subtler and ultimately more important work. In a learning organization, leaders’ roles differ dramatically from that of the charismatic decision-maker. Leaders are designers, teachers, and stewards. These roles require new skills: the ability to build shared vision, to bring to the surface and challenge prevailing mental models, and to foster more systematic patterns of thinking. Leaders are responsible for building organizations where people are continually expanding their capabilities to shape their future—that is, leaders are responsible for learning.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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The Management of Creativity


Creativity has been defined in dozens of ways, but essentially it means the process by which novel but situationally appropriate outcomes are brought about. The field of creativity is in full bloom. Thousands of pieces of research have probed creativity. These researches have x-rayed such opaque matters as what kind of people are creative individuals; what motivates them; how creative people go about identifying, defining, and solving problems; what efforts are creative; what constitutes creative thinking, what techniques aid creative problem solving; what sorts of environments foster creativity; the assessment of creativity and the level of creativity of human efforts; etc.

The management of creativity in organizational settings is relatively far less researched, but is of great importance in a world of huge collective challenges and fierce competition. It fuses two fields—management and creativity. Management can be defined in many different ways, but broadly it is an organized effort at improving the functioning of organizations through such processes as the fixing of goals, the development and implementation of a strategy for achieving goals, the control of operations to ensure that goals are being met, the coordination of interdependent activities, the creation of structures and systems, the management of human resources as well as of other stakeholders and so forth.

As a field, the management of creativity has some distinctive aspects that differentiates it from general creativity. The management of creativity involves various collectives: dyads, teams, departments and divisions, organizations, associations of organizations, even governance systems of communities and societies. Even when one is discussing managerial creativity (the creativity of individual managers), the focus is on creativity displayed in a collectivity and relating to the various tasks that need to be performed in that collectivity. The work-related context channels creativity in important ways—towards achieving the goals of the collectivity and in discharging various management functions. The focus is not ‘pure’ art or science, or individual self-actualization, but on creative behavior in an organizational setting in which the organization’s goals, policies, structures, systems and so forth call the shots. Although individuals working in organizations certainly attempt to pursue their own interests, they do so keeping in mind organizational requirements, and this feature strongly influences the form that creativity takes in organizational settings.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Board: Checklist


  • Who is responsible for ensuring that the board is effective and composed of directors that individually and collectively are competent?
  • Does the board evaluate its own effectiveness at least once a year?
  • What does the board do to benchmark itself against other boards.
  • Is the nature of the board and how it conducts its operations appropriate to the situation and circumstances of the company?
  • Is the board aware of its accountabilities to various stakeholders?
  • Does the board fully understand the requirements of the various stakeholders in the company?
  • Have the cross-functional and inter-organizational processes that deliver these requirements been identified?
  • Are the individual members of the board aware of their legal duties and responsibilities as directors?
  • Has the board identified a distinctive purpose for the company, and agreed and shared a compelling vision?
  • Has the board agreed and shared clear goals and values, established measurable objectives and put a performance management teamwork in place?
  • Have the ‘vital few’ actions that must be done been identified, and roles and responsibilities relating to their achievement been allocated?
  • Does the board pay sufficient attention to the implementation of objectives and policies?
  • Are the enablers, critical success factors and resource requirements for implementation in place?
  • Are the people of the organization motivated, empowered and equipped with the necessary skills to make it happen?

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Knowing about Cartel


A cartel is a group of firms combining to restrict output and raise price, the aim being to balance as a collective monopoly. Each firm in a cartel agrees to produce less than it would under unrestrained competition, in order to drive the price up so that all in the group will benefit.

Cartels can only raise prices by cutting firm outputs. But at the higher prices, member firms are motivated to produce even more than at competitive equilibrium. So the more successful the cartel, the greater the incentive to chisel. Carters therefore require enforcement devices to prevent chiseling. In a number of European countries, the law may treat a cartel agreement as a legality enforceable contract. Some jurisdictions take a neutral position: the cartel agreement is not unlawful, but the power of the state will not enforce it. Finally, the law may be actively hostile to cartels as “consipiracies in restraint of trade.” In such a situation a cartel would require enforcement devices that are both effective and secret—an unlikely combination when any detected chiseler can complain to the authorities.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Revisiting Leadership


Human beings are designed for learning. Unfortunately, the primary institutions of a society are oriented predominantly toward controlling rather than learning, rewarding individuals for performing for others rather than for cultivating their natural curiosity and impulse to learn. The young child entering school discovers quickly that the name of the game is getting the right answer and avoiding mistakes—a mandate no less compelling to the aspiring managers.

 

Our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning. The forces of destruction begin with toddlers—grades in school, gold stars, and on up through the university. On the job, people, teams, divisions are ranked—reward for the one at the top, punishment at the bottom. Incentive pay, business plans, put together separately, division by division, cause further loss, unknown and unknowable.

 

Ironically, by focusing on performing for someone else’s approval, corporations create the very conditions that predestine them to mediocre performance. Over the long run, superior performance depends on superior learning. A full one-third of the Fortune 500 industrials listed in 1970 had vanished by 1983.

 

Today, the average lifetime of the largest industrial enterprises is probably less than half the average lifetime of a person in an industrial society. On the other hand, a small number of companies that survived for seventy-five years or longer. Interestingly, the key to their survival is the ability to run experiments in the margin to continually explore new business and organizational opportunities that create potential new sources of growth.

 

If anything, the need for understanding how organizations learn and accelerating that learning is greater today than ever before. In an increasingly dynamic, interdependent, and unpredictable world, it is simply no longer possible for anyone to figure it all out at the top. The old model, the top thinks and the local acts, must now give way to integrating thinking and acting at all levels.

 

While the challenge is great, so is the potential payoff. The person who figures out how to harness the collective genius of the people in his/her organization is going to blow the competition way.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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