As the sun sets on the Stoos gathering which looked at new, more effective and more human ways of leading organisations, I am starting on a new path of my own.
I have accepted the position of General Manager for the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM). The College has been going through its own corporate growing pains over the last few years as they have moved from a fully voluntary membership organisation to a professional member-based College responsible for the standards and growth of their professions.
Those of you reading my blogs on this site (and elsewhere) will know that I am a fan of what Steve Denning has chosen to call Radical Management and I will be looking to introduce this way of working to ACPSEM. I hope to blog about my experiences as I go, as well as continuing some of my broader work on leadership, management, communication and corporate growing pains.
I was taken by the description to come out of the Stoos gathering, that:
organisations can become learning networks of individuals creating value and that the role of leaders should include the stewardship of the living rather than the management of the machine
This suits my own preferred style of leadership, and was part of the driving force behind The Leader’s Beacon. However, I have already found that there are going to be hurdles and pitfalls along the way.
I introduced the ACPSEM office team to the notion of radical management this week, and tried to do it in an interesting and exciting way, especially through the use of stories. While I used some springboard stories, I found myself moving into abstract details because I was trying to lead a quantum leap instead of allowing the process to emerge organically.
At the moment, we are lacking some of the foundations required to introduce radical management. However a new team was starting this week, providing the opportunity to demonstrate how the system could work with one team while the rest of us work on creating the foundations we need for our own work. I decided to introduce the whole team to the principles, not just the newcomers and this led to me providing too much abstract detail.
I am also new to the team. One of the principles Steve Denning has written about is the way that stories emerge from the team during discussions on radical management. I started this way, inviting stories from the team, but they were reluctant to commit themselves in front of a new General Manager. I haven’t had the time to build up trust or for them to experience that my actions meet my words.
I have also found myself being pushed to make decisions which will have an impact on how the office and College operates. If I make these decisions, I will interfere with the self-organisation of the teams. If I don’t make these decisions, I can be seen as a cause of delay or as indecisive. Either way, I could become a success barrier or passion bleeder.
Most of our members work in fields like oncology, radiation therapy, diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine and biomedical engineering. These are all high risk fields, dealing with human health and treatments, where patients demand the highest and most rigid of standards. As a result, our members usually work in controlled environments and with very strict procedures and checks. This is vastly different to the world of radical management and these are the people who we are aiming to delight, and who make up the councils and committees guiding these professions in Australasia. It is not just acceptance within the office that will be difficult.
One thing that I have achieved so far – at least everybody I have spoken to understands that we are in the business of delighting our members, not just providing services or products. The concept of member delight has been embraced and already others are starting to use this language – which is a great starting point.
Helping existing teams and structures, as we have done on our consultancy, is relatively easy compared to joining an existing team with some set ways of working, especially when they have been going through difficult transitions over the last few years. This was a challenge I felt I had to accept, and I intend to see it through to the benefit of the members of ACPSEM.