Managing Differently

Managing Differently

Long-time readers of this blog will recognise that my core value proposition is, as the title states, helping organisations to think differently. The most significant thinking that benefits from a different perspective is management thinking – not least because this typically has the most leverage and impact for the organisation.

Hence, my approach with organisations is to support them in coming around to a fundamental change in their management thinking.

Aside: It’s very clear by now that traditional management thinking and new ways of collaborative knowledge work (CKW) working are fundamentally incompatible. Zero benefits and increased dysfunction (costs, stress, effort, frustration) will be the consequences for cleaving to traditional management thinking in CKW organisations.

Aside: In the Rightshifting vernacular we might call this shifting from the Analytic mindset to the Synergistic (and, ultimately, the Chaordic) Mindset.

The Point

If thinking differently were just a matter of fashion, or taste, then there would be little point. And even less, motivation. 

But the fact of the matter is that for collaborative knowledge work (CKW), traditional management (as typified by implicit violence, command and control, Theory-X, and so on) is a train wreck and a tyre fire all in one.

I’m not the first to point out the need for a different management approach with collaborative knowledge work organisations, but with 40+ years practical experience as a manager, leader, coach and advisor in CKW organisations, I can attest to the power of managing differently.

As I write in my most recent book “Quintessence”:

In the Quintessential organisation, everybody does things differently…the Manager’s role looks very different. So different, in fact, that the term “manage” ceases to be relevant. Managers in a quintessential organisation have relinquished ideas of control, and embraced a role of enablement, resourcing and support.

This is not an easy message to hear, especially for managers who’ve spent their entire working lives being (marginally) successful with traditional management thinking.

Machiavelli knew this nearly five hundred years ago:

It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes. The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. Their support is lukewarm … partly because men are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience. 

~ Niccolo Machiavelli

And what chance to experience thinking differently, when the manager’s in-group is so intolerant of revisionism?

Organisational Psychotherapy helps with freeing these in-group shackles, and liberating managers to step up to a very different way of managing.

– Bob

Further Reading

Harter, J., Buckingham, M. & Gallup Organization (2016). First, Break All The Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. Gallup Press.

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub).

Marshall, R.W. (2018). Hearts over Diamonds: Serving Business and Society Through Organisational Psychotherapy. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). (2022). Management Innovation eXchange |. [online] Available at:

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