Thursday, February 01, 2018

Leader as a designer, teacher: LeSS, Systems Thinking

One of the most overrated roles/positions in this century has been that of a leader. The Hollywood's, fortune 500 companies and the media frequently uses the word "leaders" symbolizing someone with influence or authority. 
Looking at the online etymology of the word "lead," it dates back to 1400s. Initially, it was tied to the metal "lead," which meant "flow" due to its low melting point. Over a period, it took various shapes/forms to represent someone with the ability to lead one's life.  
Interestingly, the modern etymological synonym of "leading" closely resembles the above definition with a slight modification. Instead of "guiding" one's own life, the leader will lead the way for others.  
Nowadays leadership means a position to many, class, a lifestyle(people with bungalows, playing golf), charismatic personalities with power, influence, and authority. 
How many of your leaders are actually "leading the way"? If you go to work and look around, most of the leaders are busy with spreadsheets reviewing the reports, numbers, doing performance appraisals, a tool to find faults and in turn, fixing the employees' salaries.  
How many of them are leading the way or pursuing a vision inspiring you to follow?  
Peter Senge encourages people to look at leaders as designers rather than captains of ships. If you assume, organizations are like ships; then captains can sit in an air-conditioned cabin and command the ship to turn 6 degrees. What if the ship itself is not designed to efficiently make the maneuver?
Senge encourages leaders to get their hands dirty and help in designing efficient organizations that can withstand tides and storms. 
Robert Greenleaf, who popularised the concept of "Servant leadership" encouraged leaders to ask if those served by them are growing wiser, healthier, freer?
Leaders as teachers and coaches is not a new concept. A practice that is successfully demonstrated at organizations like Toyota. 
Combining the ideas of thought leaders like Senge, Greenleaf, etc., it is clear that leadership is all about designing a system creating a space for people to follow a particular vision and purpose. 
Based on extensive research and experiments, Large-Scale Scrum(LeSS) thus recommends managers to work in creating the right structure, in turn, the culture to build agility and deliver the highest value to the customers all the time.  
As one could see from the picture below, managers are not at the top, directing the teams or assigning the tasks. They are busy in building the organisational structure, improving capability.
Following diagram provides further details clarifying responsibilities of managers in a LeSS organisation.
If you are keen to learn more about Large-Scale Scrum(LeSS), you can register for my upcoming courses. The details about the Sydney and Melbourne courses are below:

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