How conflict avoidance creates complexity
Collaboration is becoming a rundown word. By now every manager read books about its importance and how to install it in it’s organisation. Yet, as organisations we have never been so unproductive and employees have never been so disengaged.
This is the starting point of his must see TED talk of Yves Morieux (BCG). While I’m not sure that he comes with an easy to implement set of solutions (he calls it “six ways to get people to solve problems with you“) , I do know that I have never heard such a brilliant analysis of the problem.
Companies, he says, organize their businesses around two management pillars : i) a hard approach around structure, process , systems , metrics and ii) a soft approach around feeling, interpersonal, relationship, people traits and competences. These pillars however taken alone or together are falling short of addressing the new exploding complexity.
Intuitively we know that improving collaboration (he calls “interplay”) remains the proven driver for use of less resources and increased agility. However, a hard approach wants to work on collaboration by creating new boxes in the organisational skeleton – i.e. new functions (e.g. a role of “Mr Simplicity). This creates explosion of interfaces and coordination problems.
On the other hand, a soft approach wants to work on collaboration by creating more interpersonal opportunities and create more proximity between imployees. Ironically, this creates a lack of ability to do real conflict resulting in employees making compromises or escalating issues all the time.
The metaphor Morieux uses to illustrate the above issues is the decision in a family to put another TV (i.e. box in the organization) in the house to avoid having to engage in real discussion/conflict with family members about better use of the existing TV (Boxes of organization).
To avoid more TV’s in your organization it is key to enhance the conflict culture but in a constructive way and more importantly in a meaningful way. With existing organization we need to focus on forcing people to reach out more to work together : The Lego CEO Jurgen Vig Knudstorp captures it best : blame is not for failure, but it is for failing to help out or to ask for help.
Enjoy the viewing of this great Ted Talk !