Developing a Performance Culture Part II

In our previous article, Developing A Performance Culture, we explored what business can learn from the performing arts. We asked you to think about a time when you perhaps sang in a choir or played in a band or orchestra; performed in a play or musical or did a stand-up routine. When we perform like that, we are fully engaged. Our energy is our performance. It is impossible to deliver a disengaged performance. (Well, it is possible, but the performance will bomb and the fear of ‘dying’ usually energises us!)

We also talked about the ensemble mindset of all great performers: the way they know that the quality of their own performance depends on the quality of the support that they get from their fellow artists. Great performers actively want their fellow performers to be great. They work hard to help them put on a brilliant performance of their own, so that the whole ensemble can feed off the resulting energy and new ideas.

We imagined how well businesses could run if they developed a ‘performance culture’ in which team members behaved like a top-flight ensemble, pouring their energy into a barnstorming performance, with everyone working together to put on the best show they are capable of.

In the previous article, we set out 5 questions that businesses can usefully ask themselves about their own ‘performance’:

What play are we in and what is our role?
Where is our theatre of action?
Have we built a trusting, connected partnership or ensemble?
Are we rehearsing creatively?
Do we know what inputs are creating our outputs?

Here are a further 5 interesting questions from the arts that can throw light on our business performance cultures.

Do we have the right people in the room?

Many business decisions are taken in the absence of the people who will be influenced by that decision and the people whose help is needed to turn that decision into reality. We tend to rely too much on ‘protagonists’ – a handful of business leaders – and assume that they are capable of acting successfully on their own. Decisions that are taken in our boardrooms supposedly ‘cascade down’ the imaginary pyramids of our organisational structures. In reality, of course, these top-down sets of instruction tend to become garbled and misunderstood as they cascade down; they also tend to encounter some real-life glitches that – funnily enough – someone further ‘down’ the hierarchical pyramid would have spotted immediately.

To make well-informed decisions, and to be sure that ideas hatched in the boardroom can be turned into reality throughout the organisation, we need to develop business cultures that actively involve the whole organisation. Delivery men and women need to talk to finance directors; engineers need to spend time with marketeers; managing directors need to spend time with check-out assistants. These different voices bring different and entirely valid perspectives that must be heard, and may be revelatory. In healthy organisational cultures, this is already happening. But we still take some major decisions in rooms where everyone is a protagonist and there are no ‘supporting roles’ present. As our colleague, Piers Ibbotson, teaching fellow at the UK’s Warwick University business school and an ex-Royal Shakespeare Company actor and director says, ‘It is exactly like trying to put on a production of Hamlet with a room full of Hamlets’.

The play, Hamlet, cannot be understood without the presence of the Ghost, the Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Horatio, the soldiers, servants, players, gravediggers and all the rest of the cast. Every character – and everyone who contributes to the overall performance – affects the performance as a whole. If the stage directions say, ‘A flourish of trumpets and ordnance shot off, within’, the technical guys need to be sure they can deliver this before Horatio, startled, turns to Hamlet and asks, ‘What does this mean my lord?’ If Horatio waits in vain for the trumpets and cannons, abandons hope and turns to Hamlet to ask, desperately, ‘What does this mean, my lord?’ only for the trumpets and canons suddenly to blare and thunder out, drowning Hamlet’s reply – then the performance has descended into farce. It’s the same with business cultures; everything has to work together. The devil is in the detail more than the strategy.

If we hope to put on winning business performances, we need to get the right people in the room and let them ‘rehearse’ different scenarios in search of the best solution. Allowing a room full of Hamlets to make all key decisions is a recipe for disaster.

Where is the art in what we do?

It’s one thing to be technically proficient; outstanding performances are also artistically wonderful.

Great painters, dancers and musicians are, first and foremost, masters of their craft, and this enables them to perform in a way that lifts their work beyond excellence and turns it into something uplifting and transformational. Technical mastery is merely the starting point at which it becomes possible to develop real artistry. Top performances are technically near-perfect, by definition. Winning performances are ‘works of art’.
We may be at the top of our game in finance, sales, management or engineering; design or coding; marketing or manufacturing. Our organisation may be producing great products or services. But here’s the question: we may be technically brilliant, but are we aesthetically wonderful? Where is the art in what we do?

ballet dancer colour don quixote
Turning Technical Perfection Into Art

We use aesthetic judgements to a far greater extent than we tend to acknowledge. In the face of real complexity, there are many possible solutions, all of which resist simple analysis – just as there are an infinite number of ways of performing any great work of theatre or music, some more successful, aesthetically, than others. We recognise when artists have succeeded in lifting something out of the merely technically excellent and are delivering an outstanding performance because, as human beings, we are all moved and affected in the same way; what the performers are doing reaches out and touches us. We make the same judgements about businesses: we recognise when businesses are trying hard to engage with us and make us happy. The world of business is not different from other fields of human endeavour – it can’t be reduced to sets of formulae, whatever the management consultants may say. It is our uniquely human and creative input that creates a winning performance. The question for all of us, increasingly, is: ‘Are our solutions beautiful enough to succeed?’

Is our leadership shared, allowed and passed around?

In business, as in life, we feel the urge to control things. The world is messy and dangerous, and we feel safer when we have imposed order on it. This is not foolish, but there is a trade-off to be made. When we have complete order, there is no messy creativity or excited inspiration; when we have complete control, there are no happy surprises.

Ensembles are directed, not controlled. Leadership in the ensemble is shared, allowed, and passed around. The result is a far more dynamic system that that represented by established, static models of leadership, with their rigid hierarchies of command and control.

This shared power is also exhilarating. It provides a great proportion of the joy that performing artists find in performance. I set out in one direction, but your idea is slightly different. As we work together, in the moment, to find the best solution, we share in the joy of creativity. We are both equal before the task of producing something new and, hopefully, wonderful. If anyone attempts to force a solution on the ensemble, this becomes like ‘push-pull’ in a dancing partnership: if one dancer tries to impose his or her will on the other – if their ‘lead’ is not accepted – their partner ends up being ‘pushed around’. In dance as in business, this is horrid.

Successful directors nudge and ‘bend’ the performance of ensembles in the desired direction. They recognise that, while they may be in a position of power, it is the organisation that holds the force. In order to drive creativity and inspiration, they offer constraints rather than restraints. The key phrase is not, ‘Do not do this or that’, but rather, ‘What happens if we try it this way?’

The ‘leader as theatre director’ enables and guides the performance of the ensemble but will not be part of the performance itself. Their leadership has quite literally been passed on to the performers, who must now take to the boards on their own to interpret the vision that was forged in rehearsal, observed and guided by the director.

The ‘leader as conductor’ remains very much a part of the ensemble, ‘leading from the front.’ The ensemble takes its cue from the embodied leadership of the conductor, creating a performance in which leader and ensemble are inextricably linked. There is an interesting corollary to this approach to leadership, which is that the leader of the moment must bring their unique personality to bear on the task, otherwise their contribution is meaningless. Offering a lead while pretending to be someone else is simply perverse. This is the real meaning of ‘authentic’ leadership, which is not to offer some idealised, heroic version of oneself as leader, but to offer one’s real self and to allow the other members of the ensemble to work with that. To do this, leaders must be transparent and unafraid. This ability to be unafraid and trusting is at the heart of what is involved in building a genuine ensemble.

Leaders in business are likely to find themselves carrying out both of these roles (the leader as theatre director or as orchestral conductor) at different times. The ‘leader as commander issuing orders’ is to be avoided.

Are we helping one another to perform brilliantly?

At the heart of all performance art is the interesting paradox that performers have large egos – shrinking violets do not clamour to get onto a stage in front of an audience and invite people to judge their performance – yet all performing artists understand that their own performance is completely dependent on the performance of their fellow artists. There are a few exceptions, obviously. The stand-up comedian lives or dies by himself or herself. The star soloist performs with a supporting band or orchestra with whom they have spent little time rehearsing, and it is the band’s or orchestra’s job to support the soloist in every twist and turn of their performance. But these examples do not represent true ensembles. In an ensemble, it is impossible to win on one’s own. We may get accolades for our individual contribution, but it is the performance as a whole that is judged. It is only possible to deliver a truly winning performance by encouraging and enabling wonderful performances from every other member of the ensemble. Their energy and brilliance then feeds into our own performance, driving us to perform better; the whole ensemble begins to come ‘on song’ with that indefinable but instantly recognisable crackle and spark. At that point, it is possible that we will be judged to have delivered a winning performance.

Cary Grant et al His Girl Friday
Crackle and Spark: Cary Grant , Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy in His Girl Friday

In the world of work, we are very bad at building genuine ensembles. The culture of individual success and individual reward undermines this. Good ensemble work is collaborative, or it is nothing. Individual egos and hierarchies must be subsumed to the greater good – the energy of large individual egos must be harnessed to deliver the crackling, sparking ensemble performance, rather than to allow one individual ego to grandstand and dominate proceedings at the expense of the coherence of the performance itself.

Are we delivering a winning performance?

Performing artists focus on ‘getting their performance across’ to their audience: on telling the story; on successfully transmitting the ideas and emotions inherent in the piece that they are performing and adding new nuances and meanings through their own performance.

Most business cultures think in terms of products rather than emotions. If we have made a product that people want to buy, we believe that we have succeeded. We focus on the ‘consumers’ of our products and think about what we have to do to keep that consumption coming. But, as consumers, our relationship with our chosen brands is more complex than that. We don’t ‘consume’ our favourite brands so much as ‘enjoy’ them – and our enjoyment comes from far more than the simple act of consumption. The very best corporations put on a great overall performance. Everything about our interaction with the corporation delights us – or it should. The moment that one aspect of the performance jars, or disappoints, the relationship is damaged. They have struck a false note. There are always ready examples. Car companies don’t seem so trustworthy when we discover they are prepared to use ‘defeat’ software to cheat tests designed to enforce democratically-agreed emission regulations. Multinational corporations don’t seem so loveable when we find they are doing everything in their power not to pay local taxes. A company that gives us the run around with an automated phone system designed to save them money at the expense of our time and patience is slipping down the performance league. It’s the whole performance that matters.

audience clapping lights
Delighting Our Audiences

Successful companies do not merely sell great products and services, they put on a winning performance – a great show. The front-of-house staff are friendly and enthusiastic; the seats are comfortable; the gin and tonics in the crush bar are perfect and the ice-cream is yummy. The show itself is brilliant, with great individual performances and fabulous ensemble work; the set is ingenious; the lighting is astonishing and sound system blows your socks off. You leave the theatre on a high and immediately start planning how soon you can go back again.

Now that is a show that will run and run. Developing business cultures that focus on delivering audience-wowing performances in the same way, creating crackling and sparking ensembles of top performers ‘putting on great show’, would keep our audiences coming back for more.

Read more about developing a performance culture and what business can learn from the arts in Teaching Leaders to Dance


Read more about the business novel Perform To Win: Unlocking the secrets of the arts for personal and business success

We acknowledge the contribution of Piers Ibbotson, ex-Royal Shakespeare Company member and now Teaching Fellow at the UK’s Warwick University Business School. Piers is the author of The Illusion of Leadership and a contributor to Perform To Win.

10 Organisational Behaviours Stuck in the Industrial Era

In another post, ‘Creating an Organisational Culture for the Age of Ideas’, we argued that the culture of many organisations is still unthinkingly based on the old industrial-era mindset of scientific management and command and control. We suggested that there are a number of persistent organisational behaviors that have their origins in this outmoded culture that are now actively preventing the things that modern organisations know they most need: employee engagement, commitment and creativity, for example. This idea was fully explored in our book, My Steam Engine Is Broken: Taking the organisation from the industrial era to the age of ideas.

The book was based on Mark Powell’s twenty years’ experience in management and strategy consultancy and on his ten-year experience of designing and running leadership and management development programmes at the University of Oxford. More precisely, the book was the result of Mark’s thousands of conversations with people at all levels of organisations large and small, and across several different cultures. The end result was the identification of ten organisational ‘paradoxes’ – behaviors intended to advance the organisation’s interests that are often experienced by employees in a negative way. The behaviors are paradoxical because they tend to produce results that are the exact opposite of what the organisation sets out to achieve.

In this article there is only enough space to give a short description of these ten paradoxical behaviours and their unintended outcomes, but we think that this will be enough to give you a good insight into our thinking. We all tend to recognize these industrial-era organisational behaviors, just as we also instinctively recognise what ‘good’ behaviors would look like, and why.

Ten paradoxes of organisational behavior

Control

Management seeks control, but control can be experienced as removing autonomy and preventing self-organisation and innovation. Managers gain ‘control’ but lose commitment and creative input.

Measurement

Control requires measurements and indicators, but these can become obsessive, short-termist and even misleading. More importantly, when we try to ‘measure’ people with techniques similar to those that we use to measure processes, people feel labelled, diminished and manipulated.

Efficiency

Mechanical and logistical processes must be as efficient as possible, but it’s different when people are involved. Some petty ‘efficiencies’ impact people very negatively, saving a few dollars at an immeasurable cost in lost energy.

Innovation

Organisations know that they need to innovate, but much organisational behaviour is specifically designed to prevent it. Innovative thinking is ‘risky’, by definition, and the ‘control’ mindset hates risk.

Communication

Communication is a dialogue, not a set of instructions and most organisational modes of communication are not genuine dialogues: information ‘cascades’ down imaginary pyramids; meetings create an illusion of real debate. ‘Communication’ seems to be increasing in volume and declining in quality.

Physical environment

Workspaces should be designed to encourage good communication, chance encounters and the flow of ideas. Industrial-era workspaces are designed to keep individuals in their allocated, functional space and enable supervision.

Self-organisation

People are rarely allowed to organize their own work. When they are, the results can be remarkable, as shown in this Harvard Business Review paper on GE Aviation’s move to a ‘teaming’ work structure.

Leadership

Leadership should be devolved, but is often hoarded. Everyone should be encouraged to lead whenever their natural leadership skills are most appropriate and valuable.

Networking

New ideas tend to happen at boundaries, when people from different parts of the organisation reach out and interact, but few organisations manage to enable productive networking throughout the whole operation. The industrial-era organisation sees ‘networks’ as connections to be exploited; real networks are organic and mutually beneficial.

Diversity of opinion

Organisations tend to become homogenous environments where contrarians are unwelcome. Diversity of gender and ethnicity is no guarantee of true diversity of opinion; like any ecosystem, organisations need a real diversity of ideas to evolve and survive in a rapidly changing environment.

Little by little, piece by piece

In our book, as in our earlier post, we argued that the process that was most likely to succeed in transforming organisational cultures was one of changing behaviors ‘little by little and piece by piece’ – identifying the outmoded behavior patterns that are doing the most damage to the organisation’s culture and tackling them one by one. We also believe that improvements made to any one aspect of organisational behavior are highly likely to spill over onto other behaviors – once we realise that we are not communicating effectively, to take one example, it may become obvious that we are not networking effectively either; or that our leadership is hierarchical rather than devolved, which is why we are preventing self-organisation . . . once the flaw in one behavior is recognised and addressed, the implications can ripple out through the organisation quite rapidly.

Energising organisational cultures

We hope that the ‘ten paradoxical behaviors’ described here might be a useful starting point for organisations setting out to explore which behaviors they might most need to change in order to create an enabling, empowering culture fit for the age of ideas. We can make intellectual decisions about what we would like our organisational culture to be, but the foundation of those cultures is the set of behaviors, often unwittingly inherited from our relatively recent process of industrialisation, that we enact each day at work without considering their impact on our colleagues and the consequent effect on the organisation’s energy level. Change those behaviors, and you energise the culture.

A version of this article first appeared on CultureUniversity.com

 

Creating Organisational Cultures for the Age of Ideas

Many modern organisations are unthinkingly locked into an organisational culture that began with the Industrial Revolution in eighteenth-century Britain and was fully developed during the Second Industrial Revolution in the US. The great success of these revolutions – creating modern business and generating huge wealth – makes it easy to believe that what worked as a way of managing great corporations in the early 1900s is still the best way to run an organisation in the twenty-first century.

But times have changed.

In our book, My Steam Engine Is Broken: Taking the organization from the industrial era to the Age of Ideas, we set out three core ideas.

  • Many organisations have a culture that is still unconsciously modelled on the managerial, ‘Steam Engine’ mindset of the industrial era; a culture which is fundamentally unsuited to the modern workplace.
  • There are a number of core Steam Engine behaviours which actively prevent or destroy the things that modern organisations know that they most need from their employees – engagement, commitment and creativity, amongst others.
  • Addressing and changing these core Steam Engine behaviours – little by little and piece by piece – will in time achieve a radical transformation of the organisation, creating a working environment suited to the Age of Ideas and freeing up the energies of the organisation’s members.

Locked in an industrial mindset

The great corporations of the early twentieth century happily adopted Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management, which argued that a new class of executives – managers and planners – were needed to reveal the ‘scientific’ approach to any particular task, which would yield the one best way of performing that task. Taylor was unabashedly prepared to argue that most workers were, in his words, ‘too stupid’ to discern the ‘science’ of their activities. Even workers with considerable skills carrying out complex tasks were, in Taylor’s view, not the right people to deal with ‘the science’ of their work, since even if they had the capacity properly to plan the best approach to their work, this would distract them from the work itself – what was needed was another other sort of being: the manager/planner.

From this patronising worldview emerged the persistent modern model, in which every worker must have a manager, and that managers are superior to workers. Whatever Taylor may have said about ‘friendly’, ‘harmonious’, and ‘intimate’ cooperation between managers and workers, the mould was cast: workers worked; managers and planners (needed in surprisingly large numbers) managed and planned.

Constantly assessing, appraising and judging

When ‘the one best way’ is imposed on people in this way by a rigid, status-laden hierarchy, it creates the kind of dehumanising, de-energising, stressful and unhappy working environments that are still far too common today. It is rare to come across any organization where aspects of these behaviours are not still clearly in place, with the obvious result that people feel put upon rather than inspired, and what should be a genuine community working together to achieve the same end is turned into an unnatural environment where one class of employee is constantly assessing, appraising and judging the other class. This is particularly damaging in the knowledge economy: when people are employed for their ideas and for their unique human skills (such as emotional intelligence), we shouldn’t be surprised if treating them like machines whose outputs are monitored and rated leads to disenchanted employees.

The illusion of control

Of the ten Steam Engine behaviours that we identify in the book, the two most pernicious are those to do with control and measurement. Every manager wants to feel that they are ‘in control’, and measuring everything that moves helps to create an illusion of control. But it is an illusion: a moment’s reflection reveals that we can measure and control processes, but not people. Dealing with people – human beings – requires a human approach. It’s trickier, but it’s perfectly doable. The old ‘command and control’ model really is past its sell-by date.

If a new approach to control and measurement will take some adjusting to, the other dimensions that we discuss, such as innovation, communication, devolved leadership, networking, diversity and other aspects of organisational behaviour find a ready audience. ‘You’re right,’ most leaders agree: ‘we really do need to get better at those things.’

Little by little, piece by piece

The behaviours that are most in need of change will differ (of course) from organisation to organisation; it is the precise mix of these various behaviors that creates each organisation’s individual culture.

Only you can judge what is most relevant to your own situation. Our argument is that all of these kinds of outmoded, Steam Engine behaviors interact with each other and that you will find (we believe) that when you address any one of these issues and begin to change the organisation’s behaviour in that one dimension, then the resultant new way of being quickly leads on to new perceptions and different ways of behaving in the other, related dimensions.

Setting out to ‘change the corporate culture’ with one almighty heave is difficult, daunting, and usually doomed to failure. Changing the organisation’s behaviour little by little, piece by piece, is achievable, and will slowly but surely bring about a real transformation, moving the organisation from an industrial mindset to one that is suited to the modern reality of our working lives.

 

A version of this article first appeared in CultureUniversity.com

 

Hero Leadership Is A Big Ask: We Need Leadership In Depth

If organisations didn’t have to cope with change, we wouldn’t need leadership – we could simply manage the existing, well-established processes, doing the same thing over and over again in a nice, comfortable way. But things do change, and organisations must change constantly to reflect this challenging fact of life. As the pace of change accelerates, we need leadership of a very high calibre to keep organisations relevant and successful.

When we want to give our leaders new perspectives to equip them for the task, we send them on ‘leadership development programmes’ at business schools. These programmes usually ‘work’: leaders on such programmes are exposed to the latest business thinking and get the opportunity – and the breathing space – to bounce ideas off top business brains and the leaders’ peers and fellow delegates; it would be a poor programme that did not send leaders away buzzing with new ideas. But then these newly-inspired leaders go back to organisations that have not themselves, by definition, moved on, and they are expected to bring about change – sometimes radical change – either single-handedly or with the help of a few, hopefully equally inspired, members of their top team.

The organisation is effectively saying to its leadership team, ‘We know we’ve got a problem, so we’re going to send you on a development programme, and when you come back, we want you to change everything and solve the problem.’

Organisations are asking their leaders to be heroes.

A few modern business leaders are, indeed, heroic, but it’s a big ask; truly great leaders are few and far between. What we need, as well as hero leaders, is excellent leadership, in depth.

Sending leaders back to the trenches

‘Developing’ leaders in this way is a lot like taking the most promising officers out of the trenches of the First Word War, training them in the techniques of modern warfare so that they can become a new type of military leader, and then sending them back to the trenches in the hope that they will transform the military situation. Their heads are bursting with new ideas, but the army is still stuck in the trenches and everyone around them is stuck in the mindset of trench warfare. Oh – and the chiefs of staff don’t agree with this ‘radical’ new way of thinking and still believe that they can win the war in the trenches.

These newly-developed leaders, filled with marvellous new ideas, are unlikely to be able to transform the situation, despite their individual brilliance.

The need for organisational transformation

What is needed in this analogy, clearly, is a transformation of the strategic military situation. The new leaders who have been plucked out of the trenches should be sent, not back to the trenches, but to begin to work with the chiefs of staff, and to go on to work with the army as a whole on a new strategic plan that would get the army out of the trenches and onto a new offensive.

Modern organisations are large and complex and are resistant to change; the existing management, much of the wider leadership and the board of directors (the ‘chiefs of staff’ in our analogy) may still firmly believe that the old ways are best and that the new ways are risky. There can be a lot of resistance to getting organisations ‘out of the trenches’.

Developing the leadership skills of a chosen few is not, in itself, the best route to transforming organisations. We need many new-thinking leaders in place, right throughout the organisation.

Training new leaders early in their career

Organisations tend to offer leadership development quite late in people’s careers, at a time when ideas, attitudes and behaviours are well-established and harder to change – when the individuals already have a substantial degree of alignment with their organisation’s mindset and after their current thinking has been positively reinforced by the very fact of their career success to date. By this stage, they may find it difficult to envisage how or even why they or the organisation should change.

Modern organisations need leadership in depth. Offering leadership development to a wide range of potential leaders far earlier in their career would create a new generation of potential leaders who are thinking about the challenges that they face, and have already begin to think about the ways in which they should adapt to cope with these.

Instead of relying on leaders to achieve heroic feats, organisations would be wiser to develop strong leadership in depth, offering leadership training earlier in people’s careers and encouraging them to step up and lead whenever appropriate.

Rethinking ‘Human Resources’

You may remember (though you are probably too young) that Human Resource departments used to be called ‘Personnel’ departments, and their job was pretty much restricted to finding, training and retaining (and sometimes letting go) personnel – or ‘people’ as we tend to call them these days.  When the term Human Resources was first used in the corporate context, sometime around the 1950s in the United States, it was part of a deliberate rebranding exercise, intended to flag up the strategic importance of the role and the centrality of the ‘human resource’. People were no longer seen as ‘personnel’ – the individuals who happened to carry out a particular duty for the corporation at a particular moment – they were a core and precious resource, to be nurtured and cared for.

But it is a shame that the well-meaning re-branders chose that particular term. The problem with the word ‘resource’ is – well, it’s obvious what the problem is. It makes it sound as if people are a resource, just like copper is a resource – or cotton, or water or any other essential raw material – whereas people are the essential resource: organisations can hope to survive the absence or the scarcity of any other resource provided that they have the people in place with the wit and energy to carry out the necessary transformation to cope with the new conditions.

The key competence is adaptability

In a changing world, the key competence is adaptability. The most perfect processes will become outmoded or irrelevant; only people are capable of making the necessary transition from what works now to what will work in the new environment. And to do this, people need to be engaged, committed, empowered and enabled. They need to be alert to changes in the outside world and certain that their hunches and feelings about that outside world will be listened to and taken seriously. And the organisation needs to structure itself in such a way that it taps into the ideas and energies of all these people, rather than relying on the wisdom (or otherwise) of the few.

The authors of this article have recently published a book called My Steam Engine is Broken: Taking the Organisation from the Industrial Era to the Age of Ideas. In the book we argue (as you have probably guessed from the title) that the mindset of many organisations is still stuck somewhere around the time of the Second Industrial Revolution in the US in the early 20th century – the era in which many of today’s global giants were either born or began to emerge as mighty industrial concerns: corporations such as the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola and many others. You can’t necessarily blame people for thinking: if it worked for those guys, why would it not work for us? But the fact is that the industrial mindset really isn’t working in the knowledge economy. The obsession with control, measurement and so-called efficiency continues to create a stressed and unhappy working environment in which creativity is stifled and engagement is destroyed. Our steam engines really are broken, and it is time to stop patching them up and to transform them.