My second day at MIT covered the ‘new normal’ for organisations, related needs for leadership, and different lenses on organisational change.

Everyone on the course here is aiming for a similar goal: to become a ‘new organisation’ ? despite the highly diverse range of industries represented in the course. Driven by the need for speed and agility to keep up with technological change, hyper-competition and new customer expectations, the ‘new organisation’ is:

  1. Networked (rather than narrowly bounded in specialised roles)
  2. Flat (not hierarchical)
  3. Flexible (not fixed in its rules and processes)
  4. Diverse
  5. Global in reach and markets.

This organisational type will be a pretty familiar concept for the New Zealand public sector (although it's more of a stretch to ponder how the fifth element might translate for a government agency). But in our group on the course, most private sector companies seemed to be further down the track in truly implementing all elements.

We talked about the pressure and challenges this organisational form creates for leaders, who work in a confusing environment without stable rules and structures and need to show persuasion and partnerships to accomplish results. Our world is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, chaotic and ambiguous.

MIT Sloan's leadership model talks about four key capabilities (“4-cap"):

  1. Visioning ? clearly articulating where we are going and why, providing meaning and direction that others find attractive and persuasive.
  2. Relating ? persuasion, influence, coalition building, negotiation, connecting.
  3. Inventing ? getting things done, doing something that hasn't been done before.
  4. Sense making ? collecting data, synthesising, map making, articulating to others.

Different leaders are strong in different quadrants. Nelson Mandela was a visionary, Steve Jobs an inventor, Bill Clinton a relater, and Bill Gates a sense-maker.

We also looked at how to diagnose organisational problems and approach change through strategic, political and cultural lenses. One could call this seeing an organisation through the brain, the gut and the heart ? none can survive without the other.

Venn diagram

"No MIT Sloan course would be complete with a Venn diagram."  John van Maanen

My favourite quote of the day was that leadership is "about poetry and plumbing". Leaders have to be inspirational and make sure that the trash is taken out. MIT doesn't make a distinction between management and leadership. Management without leadership is dispiriting and soulless. Leadership without management is chaotic and confusing.

My treats for the day from the MIT book store:

Book covers x 3

Evelyn Wareham   River view