I have a lot of compassion for the managers and the board of directors; I have been in their position for many years. It’s not easy to be a manager; one must be a hero. He is supposed to know everything, be a visionary and skilled at creating a team. At his level expectations are high regarding his abilities. Under such pressure it is very common for managers to make mistakes or interfere to prove their competence in order to meet expectations. Constantly challenged, the manager is often criticized and blamed, either verbally during meetings or in writing. Yet in a conventional organization he is useful and indispensable.

The manager spends most of his time arbitrating, because of a lack of a clear, explicit, and practical delegation system. He organizes the restructuring, relying on those loyal to him while at the same time taking care of his key people. Afterwards, he has to take care of the damage done to the business and the employees. The manager is stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea at the risk of becoming schizophrenic. Often he has to make choices he doesn’t like because he is split between his team and the board of directors to whom he must report.

The manager is also a father figure. He manages the tensions of his people because there is no system in a conventional organization to process them. This has not changed since 1911 — remember Taylor and Ford. This is not the introduction of the multidimensional scorecards or the lean management of the Japanese automobile industry of the 70’s or the agile methods of the IT industry that significantly evolved the managerial technology. Finally, the manager must “empower” his people. Even by saying or thinking this contributes to and reinforces his state of powerlessness.

I have a lot of compassion for all the professionals who have many skills and expertise and then find themselves fast-tracked into a manager position almost overnight. They have to leave their zone of expertise and talent because management is a time-eater which quickly gobbles up 100% of their time. Now they are dedicated to management until they are sidelined by the next restructuring — because one must simplify the organizations and their processes. The imbalance is even greater for them since they often lose contact with their past expertise.

It is time to get out of this managerial system which is ineffective and costly at every level. It is also time to get out of this duality “expert or manager” and to relieve managers of all these activities which have no added value in the expression of the company’s purpose. It is time to learn to restructure the organization smoothly as we go, at its own pace. It is time to set up efficient processes to manage tensions. It is time to set up practical, explicit and dynamic systems of delegation.

In short, it is time to change the managerial technology

J’ai beaucoup de compassion pour les managers

 In less than 30 years, we went from corded rotary dial telephones in the 70’s to the iPhone or SmartPhone. We are still a century behind regarding organization and management. For several years, new approaches emerged such as coaching, learning organizations, team-building, lean management, agile methods, open spaces, world café… yet the chronic difficulties of organizations still remain. They even tend to intensify.

“What are the endemic challenges that you meet in your organization?

It’s the question that I ask everywhere I go and the answers are always the same: communication issues, too many political and influential games, difficulties in making decisions, lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities, bureaucracy, lack of initiatives and creativity, etc. Those endemic issues still exist. It’s normal since they are most likely the natural consequence of the way conventional organizations are conceived.

Today a new managerial technology is finally available with unimaginable capacities — much as it was unthinkable at the time of corded rotary phones to imagine downloading a GPS program into a telephone.

This technology is called Holacracy, a word invented by those who created the concept in 2008. In French-speaking countries, many people spell it “holacratie”.

This new mode of governance is truly a technological break with the conventional model of Frederick Taylor. This is what I have been able to observe over the past few years through my own experience in iGi Partners as well as my clients’ organizations that I have coached in setting up Holacracy. This managerial technology has a most promising future.

Hopefully the managers may relax.

To read too: Why Holacracy® and not holacratie, holacraty or Holocracy ?