Intervention on People Issues is a Red Herring
Photo Credit: StuartWebster
In his typically assertive (cough) style, John Seddon in this video clip hits a particular nail on the head.
“Intervention on people issues is a red herring; but a popular red herring amongst Western management thinkers.”
~ John Seddon
It’s not that people don’t matter, it’s that there’s a paradox here: change the system and behaviour change comes for free. Also known as “don’t work on the 5%“.
Managers As Coaches
I’m writing this post because the implication for the trendy “managers as coaches” idea seems clear. If a manager is trying to coach a member of their staff, they’re not only “working on the 5%”, they’re also likely distracting themselves from their real job by spending less time working on the system.
“The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager.”
~ Peter F. Drucker
How likely is it that coaching, whoever is doing it, is merely helping people cope better with the dysfunctions of the systems they find themselves working within? Not that an improved ability to cope with feelings of e.g. frustration, disempowerment and disengagement is without merit. But maybe that’s not what folks are looking to coaching to deliver?
Only when there’s a possibility of changing the system will coaching – specifically, coaching in how to change the system – provide any real value and meaningful change.
How often do coaches have any influence on – or recognised part to play in – such systemic change?
Full Lean Iceland Panel Session – Vimeo video