5 years, 3 months ago

Political parties and organizational intelligence 2

#orgintelligence #politics @rafaelbehr contrasts the behaviour of the Conservative and Labour parties.

Before the 2015 election, the Labour party practised collective denial (“misplaced confidence”, “kidded themselves”), believing that “organization could compensate for uninspiring leadership”. Following the election, “a danger now is oversteering the other way”.

Denial and oscillation are two of the principal symptoms I have identified of Organizational Stupidity (May 2010).

Contrast this with the Conservative willingness to invest in ‘blue collar conservatism’. Behr attributes this initiative to George Osborne, one of whose political gifts “is the self-knowledge to identify gaps in his own experience and to plug them with astute appointments”. Cameron, he suggests, is much less intellectually curious than Osborne. And yet it is Cameron who carries through Osborne’s plan to appoint Robert Halfon in order to recalibrate the Conservative’s relationship with the working classes.

What reveals itself here is a form of intelligence and leadership that is collective rather than individual, a form of collaboration and teamwork that has not been strongly evident in the Labour Party recently.

Steve Richards goes further …

“During Cameron’s leadership the Conservatives have become more alive as a party, impressively animated by ideas and debate. Cameron appears to be an orthodox Tory but likes having daring thinkers around him, even if they do not last that long. … In recent years Conservative party conferences have been far livelier than Labour ones, which have been deadened by fearful control freakery.”

… and insists that “the next Labour leader must not be frightened by internal debate”.

One of the essential duties of leadership in any organization must be to boost the collective intelligence of the organization. Not just debate, but debate linked with action.

Patrick Wintour reports that there was plenty of (apparently) healthy argument in Labour’s inner circle.

“Meetings were quite discursive, because there were a large number of views in the room. … [Miliband] enjoyed that. He used the disagreement as a means to get his own way. It is a very interesting case study in power, in that he would not be described typically as a strong leader, but very consensual. The caricature of him is as weak, but internally he had great control.”

But that’s not enough.

“The team that Miliband had assembled around him consisted of highly intelligent individuals, but the whole was less than the sum of its parts – it was, according to many of those advisers, like a court in which opposing voices cancelled one another out.”

Furthermore, an important requirement for organizational intelligence is that it is just not enough to have an inner circle of bright and well-educated ‘spads’, and to appoint either the cleverest or the most photogenic of them as “leader”. Perhaps the Labour inner circle deeply understood the political situation facing the party, but they neglected to communicate (forgot to mention) this insight to others. The vanguard is not the party. Any party that aspires to be a movement rather than a machine must distribute its intelligence to the grass roots, and thence to the population as a whole.

Exercise for the reader: count the ironies in the above paragraph.

Finally, intelligent organizations have a flexible approach to learning from the past. @freedland argues that Miliband was single-minded about the future, and refused to tackle the prevailing narrative about the Labour government’s role in the 2008 economic crisis.

“The management gurus and political consultants may tell us always to face forward, never to look over our shoulder, to focus only on the future. But sometimes it cannot be done. In politics as in life, the past lingers.”


Sources:

Rafael Behr, The age of machine politics is over. But still it thrives in the Labour party (Guardian 4 June 2015)

Jonathan Freedland, ‘Moving on’: the mantra that traps Labour in the past (Guardian 5 June 2015)

Tim Glencross, Attack of the clones: how spads took over British politics (Guardian 19 April 2015)

Brian Matthews, The Labour Party and the Need for Change: values, education and emotional literacy/intelligence (Forum, Volume 54 Number 1, 2012)

Steve Richards, Labour’s next leader should look to David Cameron, not Tony Blair (Guardian 1 June 2015)

Patrick Wintour, The undoing of Ed Miliband – and how Labour lost the election (Guardian 3 June 2015)

Chris York, The Rise Of The Spad: How Many Ministers Or Shadow Ministers Have Had Proper Jobs? (Huffington Post, 13 November 2013)


Related Posts:

Symptoms of Organizational Stupidity (May 2010)
Political Parties and Organizational Intelligence (May 2012)
Dark Politics (May 2015)

Updated 6 June 2015

5 years, 3 months ago

Political parties and organizational intelligence 2

#orgintelligence #politics @rafaelbehr contrasts the behaviour of the Conservative and Labour parties.

Before the 2015 election, the Labour party practised collective denial (“misplaced confidence”, “kidded themselves”), believing that “organization could compensate for uninspiring leadership”. Following the election, “a danger now is oversteering the other way”.

Denial and oscillation are two of the principal symptoms I have identified of Organizational Stupidity (May 2010).

Contrast this with the Conservative willingness to invest in ‘blue collar conservatism’. Behr attributes this initiative to George Osborne, one of whose political gifts “is the self-knowledge to identify gaps in his own experience and to plug them with astute appointments”. Cameron, he suggests, is much less intellectually curious than Osborne. And yet it is Cameron who carries through Osborne’s plan to appoint Robert Halfon in order to recalibrate the Conservative’s relationship with the working classes.

What reveals itself here is a form of intelligence and leadership that is collective rather than individual, a form of collaboration and teamwork that has not been strongly evident in the Labour Party recently.

Steve Richards goes further …

“During Cameron’s leadership the Conservatives have become more alive as a party, impressively animated by ideas and debate. Cameron appears to be an orthodox Tory but likes having daring thinkers around him, even if they do not last that long. … In recent years Conservative party conferences have been far livelier than Labour ones, which have been deadened by fearful control freakery.”

… and insists that “the next Labour leader must not be frightened by internal debate”.

One of the essential duties of leadership in any organization must be to boost the collective intelligence of the organization. Not just debate, but debate linked with action.

Patrick Wintour reports that there was plenty of (apparently) healthy argument in Labour’s inner circle.

“Meetings were quite discursive, because there were a large number of views in the room. … [Miliband] enjoyed that. He used the disagreement as a means to get his own way. It is a very interesting case study in power, in that he would not be described typically as a strong leader, but very consensual. The caricature of him is as weak, but internally he had great control.”

But that’s not enough.

“The team that Miliband had assembled around him consisted of highly intelligent individuals, but the whole was less than the sum of its parts – it was, according to many of those advisers, like a court in which opposing voices cancelled one another out.”

Furthermore, an important requirement for organizational intelligence is that it is just not enough to have an inner circle of bright and well-educated ‘spads’, and to appoint either the cleverest or the most photogenic of them as “leader”. Perhaps the Labour inner circle deeply understood the political situation facing the party, but they neglected to communicate (forgot to mention) this insight to others. The vanguard is not the party. Any party that aspires to be a movement rather than a machine must distribute its intelligence to the grass roots, and thence to the population as a whole.

Exercise for the reader: count the ironies in the above paragraph.

Finally, intelligent organizations have a flexible approach to learning from the past. @freedland argues that Miliband was single-minded about the future, and refused to tackle the prevailing narrative about the Labour government’s role in the 2008 economic crisis.

“The management gurus and political consultants may tell us always to face forward, never to look over our shoulder, to focus only on the future. But sometimes it cannot be done. In politics as in life, the past lingers.”


Sources:

Rafael Behr, The age of machine politics is over. But still it thrives in the Labour party (Guardian 4 June 2015)

Jonathan Freedland, ‘Moving on’: the mantra that traps Labour in the past (Guardian 5 June 2015)

Tim Glencross, Attack of the clones: how spads took over British politics (Guardian 19 April 2015)

Brian Matthews, The Labour Party and the Need for Change: values, education and emotional literacy/intelligence (Forum, Volume 54 Number 1, 2012)

Steve Richards, Labour’s next leader should look to David Cameron, not Tony Blair (Guardian 1 June 2015)

Patrick Wintour, The undoing of Ed Miliband – and how Labour lost the election (Guardian 3 June 2015)

Chris York, The Rise Of The Spad: How Many Ministers Or Shadow Ministers Have Had Proper Jobs? (Huffington Post, 13 November 2013)


Related Posts:

Symptoms of Organizational Stupidity (May 2010)
Political Parties and Organizational Intelligence (May 2012)
Dark Politics (May 2015)

Updated 6 June 2015

7 years, 7 months ago

Are we making progress?

In a great post, @JohnQShift explains how to build a culture of learning in your business. He calls this A Matter of Life or Death (Feb 2013)

In the post, John reports one of his clients observing that they had made some progress in their business over the year.  By progress, the client meant that

  • people were beginning to take up more responsibility and initiative without having to wait for the boss to tell them what to do
  • there was more discussion amongst the staff as to how to manage some of the day-to-day challenges they meet and less referring to the boss for the “answer”
  • mistakes were being used as entry points to examining business processes and working out how they could be improved
  • they had a clearer idea of their collective purpose and how important relationship is to achieving that purpose
  • the leaders were devoting more of their time to ensuring the conditions and structures of the business were optimised so that people could get on with their jobs (and less time micro-managing operational tasks).

Read more »

7 years, 7 months ago

Are we making progress?

In a great post, @JohnQShift explains how to build a culture of learning in your business. He calls this A Matter of Life or Death (Feb 2013)

In the post, John reports one of his clients observing that they had made some progress in their business over the year.  By progress, the client meant that

  • people were beginning to take up more responsibility and initiative without having to wait for the boss to tell them what to do
  • there was more discussion amongst the staff as to how to manage some of the day-to-day challenges they meet and less referring to the boss for the “answer”
  • mistakes were being used as entry points to examining business processes and working out how they could be improved
  • they had a clearer idea of their collective purpose and how important relationship is to achieving that purpose
  • the leaders were devoting more of their time to ensuring the conditions and structures of the business were optimised so that people could get on with their jobs (and less time micro-managing operational tasks).

Read more »

8 years, 4 months ago

Leadership and Organizational Intelligence

Chief Knowledge Officer

Joseph Goedert, Expert says it’s time for Health Care to create ‘Chief Knowledge Officer’ position. Health Data Management, Oct 2011

Chief Learning Officer

CLO Magazine

Josh Bersin, Today’s Chief Learning Officer (November 2010)

“A few years ago I wrote an article about how the CLO is really three people:  A Chief Culture Officer (driving engagement, learning, and collaboration), A Chief Performance Officer (driving employee performance, alignment, and skills);  and a Chief Change Officer
(vigilantly driving change, seeing the future, and helping the CEO and
other leaders transform the workforce as the business and workforce
changes).  Today, more than ever, the CLO must be all three.”

Chief Sensemaking Officer

Peter Flemming Teunissen Sjoelin, Making Sense: One of the Components of Achieving Holistic Management (Jan 2011); Holistic Management in a Context of Enterprise IT Management and Organizational Leadership (May 2011)

Chief Collaboration Officer

Morten T. Hansen, Scott Tapp, Who Should be Your Chief Collaboration Officer? HBR Oct 2010

Lydia Dishman, Why Your Company Needs A Chief Collaboration Officer. Fast Company, May 2012


Is this several different (but overlapping) positions, or several labels for the same position?  I believe these are all aspects of Organizational Intelligence, and call for coordinated leadership. That doesn’t necessarily mean a single position, but certainly not a set of disconnected or rival initiatives.


And who will take such positions? Hansen and Tapp suggest that the responsibilities should be added to one of the existing C-level roles – probably one of the following five.

  • The current CIO. 
  • The current HR head. 
  • The current COO. 
  • The current CFO.
  • The current head of strategy.

I agree that organizational intelligence might reasonably be added to any of these disciplines, but it would undoubtedly represent a radical shift for the traditional disciplines that dominate these functions. Leadership indeed.