Rightshifting Transitions (Part 2)

Rightshifting Transitions (Part 2)

[From the Archive: Originally posted at Amplify.com Mar 6, 2011]

The Essence of the Three Rightshifting Transitions

Part 2 – Analytic to Synergistic

The Marshall Model proposes that there are three fundamental transitions that any business will encounter on its rightshifting journey (i.e. the journey to significantly improved organisational effectiveness).

Encountering these transitions is inevitable, although businesses generally do not recognise a transition when they (most often, unwittingly) bump into it. And given the low probability of making a successful transition, any one business may repeatedly bump into the same transition some number of times.

The second transition, and the one we’ll discuss here today, is from the Analytic mindset to the Synergistic.

Analytic to Synergistic

Most businesses that discover the value of discipline settle comfortably into the Analytic (aka mechanistic) mindset for the long haul. Most such businesses do not survive long enough to progress past this Analytic mindset and experience the more effective Synergistic and even Chaordic approaches. (Hence, btw, most executives, managers and employees never get to experience working under anything other than Ad-hoc and Analytic mindsets.)

Setting aside the reasons for this (a hot topic for a future post), those few businesses that continue to strive for futher improvements to their effectiveness will, sooner or later, encounter the transition to the Synergistic mindset. Again, this encounter is generally unexpected and unrecognised, even when the business is mired in the day-to-day practicalities of the transition.

Successfully accomplishing this transition involves abandoning common notions of discipline, such as hierchical management, extrinsic motivation, functional decomposition of the organisation into silos, local optimisations, targets, projects, conformance, appraisals, coercion, etc. Note: This does NOT imply abandoning an appreciation of the value of discipline itself, just its traditional manifestations.

For those people within the business used to a structured, command-driven environment where e.g. managers make the decisions and workers do the work, these changes can be just as traumatic as those associated with the Ad-hoc to Analytic transition (see previous post). And again; some people may embrace the changes, some may adapt, others may leave, and some may be required to leave (i.e. fired).

If the transition is successful (and most are not, especially when people fail to recognise what’s happening), the business finds itself with a markedly new and different view of the world of work. A world where decisions are made collaboratively, most often by the people doing the work; horizontal value streams replace hierarchical management as the prevailing structural paradigm; stakeholders (especially customers) and their needs drive business decisions; and everyone in the extended value streams (or value networks) are bound together in, and energised by, a sense of common purpose. Discipline is no longer pursued for its own sake, but harnessed in service of that shared purpose. All stakeholders are much happier; growing the business seems like a breeze; and everything is achieved much more easily and effectively.

The successful Analytic to Synergistic transition educates a business (retrospectively) as to the value of (shared) purpose. Note: Simon Sinek with his “Golden Circle” model explains well the value of a (shared) sense of purpose.

Next time we’ll take a look at the third (and rarest of all) transition: from the Synergistic mindset to the Chaordic.

– Bob

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