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Distributed Leadership for a Distributed Age: Inviting Improvisation. Frank J. Barrett Professor of Management Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, California. Move away from traditional bureaucracies to flatter, more participative forms

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distributed leadership for a distributed age inviting improvisation

Distributed Leadership for a Distributed Age: Inviting Improvisation

Frank J. Barrett

Professor of Management

Naval Postgraduate School

Monterey, California

slide2

Move away from traditional bureaucracies to flatter, more participative forms

  • New leadership practices that rely less on star individuals or “great men” and more on collective efficacy and networks
    • Boris Groysberg’s research on Wall Street investment analysts
      • “What if talent is more like an orchid, thriving in certain environments and dying in others?” (Fast Company)
distributed leadership
Distributed Leadership
  • Shared, collective, complexity
  • Pushing leadership to others
  • Mobilizing initiative and freedom to contribute throughout an organization or wider system
  • Engaging wide participation
  • Inspires innovation
  • Calls attention to leadership activity rather than “great man” theories
  • Related to
    • Activity Theory
    • Distributed Cognition
    • Situational Learning
slide4

Leadership practices and activity can be spread across individuals and teams, including those outside the firm

  • Innovative activity can be initiated by those not in formal leadership positions
  • Change can be initiated from bottom-up and outside-in
    • Inviting ideas and innovations from outside the company (P&G)
    • Cisco’s cross-functional boards and councils to make strategic decisions
collective intelligence in action
Collective Intelligence in action
  • Large, loosely organized groups of people can work together in effective ways.
  • No centralized control
    • Google
    • Top Coder
    • Crowdsourcing
    • Wikipedia
    • Unbuilding the World Trade Center
  • How is this possible?
groups and extremism
Groups and Extremism
  • Going to Extremes – “When people find themselves in groups of like-minded types, they are especially likely to move to extremes.”
    • Members of a deliberating group usually end up at a more extreme position in the same general direction as their inclinations before deliberation began.
    • Separation creates polarization
jazz jams overcoming extremism
Jazz Jams – overcoming extremism
  • Overcoming Group Polarization: “hanging out” in diverse groups.
  • Jam sessions  common space where different types of people can mingle
    • Sensitivity to other members
    • Equality of distribution in conversational turn-taking
    • High diversity
  • Architecture of serendipity
leaderless non hierarchical movements
Leaderless, non-hierarchical movements
  • Wiki-pedia
  • Tea Party
  • Occupy Wall Street
  • Arab Spring
motivations and the distributed age
Motivations and the Distributed Age
  • Distributed work allows for more autonomy (can work anytime, anywhere, on any tasks you want)
  • People are free to seek challenge and play
  • This can lead to higher creativity
motivation
Motivation

Daniel Pink: “monetary rewards motivate as they should for low-level mechanical tasks, but they have the opposite effect on high-level cognitive tasks”

Pay people enough to get the money issue of the table to do transcendent / purpose-driven, more inspired work  Leaders need to inspire

what kind of leadership is needed to distribute leadership
What kind of leadership is needed to distribute leadership?
  • Facilitative: Knowledge Intensive
  • Inspiring: Higher higher purpose.
  • Network minded
  • Leads to:
    • Leadership mindset that invites improvisation
distributed leading that invites improvisation
Distributed Leading that invites improvisation
  • 1. Emphasis on continuous, emergent change over episodic change
  • 2. Emphasis on design over decision making
  • 3. Emphasis on strength-appreciation over deficit based theory of development
1 continuous vs episodic change
Episodic Change

Created by intension. Lewinian: inertial, progressive, goal seeking, motivated by disequilibrium, requires outsider intervention

Unfreeze-transition-refreeze

Continuous change

Redirection of what is underway. Confucian: cyclical, processional, without end state, equilibrium seeking, eternal

Freeze-rebalance -unfreeze

1. Continuous vs. Episodic Change
slide14

Episodic change assumes organizations are inertial.

    • Change is infrequent
    • Change is discontinuous
    • Occasional, dramatic, externally driven
    • Perspective is macro and distant
    • Emphasis on short run adaptation
  • Continuous change – organizations are emergent and self-organizing
    • Change is constant, evolving, cumulative
    • Endless modifications driven by instability and alert responsiveness
    • Perspective is micro, local
    • Emphasis tends to be long run adaptation
    • Emphasis is improvisation, recurrent reactions, emergent patterns.
role of change agent
Radical, Episodic change

Prime mover- creates change

Process: focus on inertia, seeks central leverage points

Continuous change

Sense maker- redirects change

Process: reorganizes, makes salient, reframes current patterns

Shows that change can be made at margins

Alters meaning by new language, enriched dialogue, new identity

Unblocks improvisation, translation, learning

Role of change agent
2 design over decision making
2. Design over Decision making
  • Decision attitude
    • Rational analysis
    • Detachment
    • Minimize risk
    • Select among pre-determined alternatives
    • Best managers are good problem solvers
    • Knowledge (based on past) precedes action
    • Identity linked to images of control
  • Design attitude
    • Immersion and engagement: intense practical involvement
    • Experimentation
    • Rapid prototyping
    • “As if” imagination
    • Future orientation
    • Act first, discover later
    • Identity tied to images of experimentation
3 appreciation of strengths and positive affect
3. Appreciation of strengths and Positive Affect
  • Widens scope of attention
  • Broadens behavioral repertoires
  • Nurtures intuition and creativity
  • Speeds recovery
  • Positivity prompts curiosity and exploration. (Negativity prompts avoidance).
  • Positivity broadens thought-action repertoires; negativity narrows.
    • People are less predictable in positive states.
  • Positivity ratio of 2.9 to 1 predicts human flourishing
peter drucker in his last book the next society
Peter Drucker…in his last book “The Next Society”

“The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths, making our weaknesses irrelevant”.

us navy in 2001
US Navy in 2001
  • Low morale
  • High turnover
  • Several senior leaders said: “It has never been this bad in the Navy. People are scrambling to get out.”
the title and sub topics
The Title and sub topics
  • Bold and Enlightened Leaders at Every Level: Forging an Empowered Culture of Excellence.
summit design
Summit Design
  • Day 1: Map the positive Core
  • Day 2: Articulate the ideal future vision
  • Day 3: Brainstorm ideas and actions to realize ideal vision
  • Day 4: Form volunteer groups to move forward with pilot groups.
the summit design
The Summit Design
  • 265 sailors.
  • 16 admirals; 10 three stars.
  • Strong veins: 2 ships
  • Every rank
  • Every community.
  • External stakeholders: Roadway, Ford Motor, Shell, Learning Circle, Cisco
  • Tables of 8 Max mix.
  • Posting high point stories throughout the room.
slide26

AI Summit “4D” Cycle

  • Discovery
  • Opportunity Context
  • Positive Core
  • Dream
  • Purpose
  • Vision
  • Destiny
  • Pilots
  • P-C Learning Net
  • Improvisation

Bold and Enlightened

Leaders at Every Level

Forging an Empowered

Culture of Excellence

  • Design
  • Principles & PropositionsOrganization Ideal Design
cno leadership summit 360 degree feedback
CNO Leadership Summit:360 Degree Feedback
  • First initiated at CNO Leadership Summit, December 2001
  • Solicits Feedback at multiple levels
  • Professional development tool, not an evaluation tool
  • 11 commands, 1480 assessments completed
  • Each participant had team of 3 to 12 assessors (supervisors, direct reports, peers) who acted as “feedback providers.”
  • Developmental, not evaluation.
  • 98% felt feedback was valuable and believable and recommended this be extended to other Navy commands
  • SWO Community began new pilot (started October, 2004)
  • Pilot will eventually include 15 ships and 4 shore commands for all officers (O-1 thru O-5)
  • 360 will be exclusively as a constructive feedback tool – not to be used in admin boards, promotion boards, or FitReps
comments on 360
Comments on 360
  • “It’s an excellent tool for leaders to gauge how subordinates interact with peers and their own subordinates.”
  • “Provides honest feedback that participants don’t normally receive in the typical counseling, evaluation cycle.”
  • “Provides participants a feeling of empowerment by being part of the feedback process.”
distributed leading that invites improvisation1
Distributed Leading that invites improvisation
  • 1. Emphasis on continuous, emergent change over episodic change
  • 2. Emphasis on design over decision making
  • 3. Emphasis on strength-appreciation over deficit based theory of development
provocative competence
Provocative Competence
  • Explore and monitor the perimeter of comfort and the edge of the unknown.
  • Create incremental disruptions that dislodge habit and demand openness to what unfolds.
  • Nurture an affirmative image of what’s possible.
  • Create situations that demand action: passivity is not an option.
  • Open and support alternative pathways.