|The Unicorn Management Model (UMM) aids us in the advancement of Human Systems Agility:
UMM honours the principle that you can’t change a complex system, you can only create the conditions for it to change itself. Management creates and manipulates those conditions. New Ways Of Managing also honours the Agile principle of “Let the people doing the work design the work”. The system gives them the values, ways, and means, and lets the work be emergent.
It is almost never the individual. Unreasonable systems make unreasonable people. Fix the system.
Staff get labelled as lazy, negative, obstructive, when they’re actually frustrated, bitter, disengaged, tired, afraid, unsafe. Most blossom when you get the system off them.
Nor is it the process that is the problem. Trying to improve a process is like fixing one cog in a gearbox. Even if you overcome that analogy by making a process more efficient, effective, and usually easier, that will often be a local optimum which degrades the system flow.
And of course improving tools never fixed anything, in isolation. Tools come last. Improve the system to free the people to improve the processes to identify tool requirements.
So long as the organisation is in an explore mode, you can do everything grassroots, below the radar, guerrilla. But in order to move to “The New Way Of Managing For Our Organisation”, you need executive support: a mandate to incubate that new way and adopt it widely in an iterative incremental manner.
As we adopt the new way of working, we pull new behaviour from the rest of the organisation, and we start to transform the operating model: new funding, strategy, planning, prioritisation, portfolio management, engagement between functions, governance, audit, measurement, reporting…
|An explanation of the model:Trying to directly change the way people work is futile: you can’t order them to be different. It is still worthwhile to drive intrinsic cultural change, to both managers and workers, but it won’t succeed until you also create extrinsic cultural change. They work within a system. The work system must change, to allow the people to change the way they work.
The work system provides them values to guide them, ways of working to shape what they do, and the means to do their work. In return those doing the work provide design of the work (procedures, techniques, standards), and results from the work.
The system is built on people’s behaviour, practices, artefacts and tools, and suppliers / partners.
We change the system in order to change these inputs to the work. The way we change the system is by changing the way we manage the system. We do this in three primary areas: we change the people-management, the governance and executive management, and the business management.
The executive management provides the policy, resources, vision, strategy, and funding, which in turn sets the values that the people use when doing their work.
We exclude leadership from this list: leadership comes from managers and non-managers alike. Not all managers are leaders.
The executive are themselves directed and monitored by the organisational governance, who should be concerned primarily with three system resources: people, money, and information – which they should govern equally.
The executive management receives feedback from the work system, especially but not exclusively feedback on the risks present in the system, in order to allow them to manage risk.
In order to change the way executive management and governance think, we coach both governors and executive managers in the new principles guiding the way they manage. There are primary management principles that we use, and a number of subsidiary principles derived from them. For example, these principles include the ideas that success comes through failure, we should organise around products not projects, we need to do less in order to do more, and let the people doing the work design the work.
The people-management function influences the work system through KPIs, capability, performance management,. These shape the ways for people to do their work. People managers receive feedback from the system primarily around the performance of the work.
The way that we influence people management is through introducing new models for behaviour, including kaizen cultural improvement, network management structures, servant manager (we don’t like the term servant leader), agile management, and transformational leadership.
The business management function provides priorities, workflow definitions, process designs, tools, and architecture, which practitioners use as the means to do their work. The business management function receives feedback from the work system primarily but not exclusively around what are the constraints in the system that management can help remove.
To change the way business is managed we introduce new methods such as Lean, Theory of Constraints, value networks, kanban, Scrum, Scaled Agile Framework or Disciplined Agile or Large-Scale Scrum or Scrum of Scrums, and DevOps.
An improvement “machine” drives a continual improvement programme to keep the whole thing alive and moving.
The paddle-wheel diagram is labelled “Unicorn Management Model: Alpha”. (“Alpha”=power, hierarchy, control, “Beta”=trust, collaboration, empowerment.) One day we will transform to a Beta organisation, or – to use another terminology – a “teal” culture. This UMM is for working in an Alpha world. It is how we drive the advancement towards Beta culture. As we advance, there will be less influence from management on the system, and more from the people doing the work. There will be a different picture, the Unicorn Management Model: Beta. Look for that in a future edition: we have to get there first.