• Raghu Challapilla

Manifesto for 21st Century Management: Part II

This is a continuation of Manifesto for 21st Century Management - Part I. If you don’t see the importance of these statements at the first glance, I highly recommend reading it before delving into Part 2. In this article, I will be elaborating on each one of these statement of values.

Developing resonant relationships instead of perpetuating dissonant relationships

Inspiring, exciting, and motivating people instead of judging, evaluating, assessing them

Inviting people toward a vision instead of focusing on their task completion

Enabling self-organization instead of exerting centralized control

Cultivating intrinsic motivation instead of exploiting extrinsic motivation

Embracing and exploiting diversity instead of seeking conformance

Recap on why I am writing this manifesto:

Because the traditional management-style is hurting everyone, including the managers. Traditional, dissonant, commanding, judging, punishing, management-style that motivates people with fear, anger, bonuses and promotions, without inspiring exciting and motivating them is hurting everyone. In this modern corporate world we have at least 8-12 incidents of chronic annoying stress every day! [1] We need a management style that won't hurt our society psychologically. Moreover there is a massive impact on the bottom line (for those who care more about that).

This is not a battle against managers – it’s a revolution against traditional management-style!

These value statements are guiding stars and reminders. Managers can rely on these value statements to guide their behavior and make it conducive to everyone's success and well-being, no matter what the situation.

I want these value statements to serve as a common language to fight against traditional management-style until the tipping point changes the equation for good.

Not that we don't have a lot of management material available already, but these statements succinctly express a lot of what management needs to know about 21st century management and is easier for people to remember. Just like Agile Manifesto!

[1] Dr. Richard Boyatzis in “Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence

Developing resonant relationship instead of perpetuating dissonant relationship


I invite you to close your eyes for a min and think about someone you love, perhaps your pet dog or cat when it was a baby.. or your niece, nephew, children, or someone who helped you to become what you are today.

How did that feel? What sensations did you notice in your body?

Dr. Richard Boyatzis, Ph.D from Harvard University, and the founding member of ‘Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations’, along with his colleagues assessed the impact of resonant and dissonant interactions on executives. These executives, of average age of 49 years, underwent an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and recalled their previous interactions with resonant and dissonant leaders.

Recalling previous interactions with resonant leaders activated attention in ways that it allowed a person to be open to new ideas. It also activated the ‘social network’ making them understand social environment much better.

Recalling interactions with dissonant leaders activated areas of the brain noted for ‘focused attention’. While ‘focused attention’ allows us to persist in a task, it also closes our minds to ideas or emotions that have not been a part of a defined situation or task, effectively preventing an executive from being open to new ideas. It also suppressed the ‘social network’ making them less capable of scanning and understanding the social environment.

In a separate research, two groups of school-teachers were asked to grade the same papers. One group was put positive state of mind, while the other group in negative. The teachers in positive state of mind gave much higher grades to students, as they were more open to the possible explanation of the solution.

Our state of mind has a profound impact on how open we are about new ideas and how socially aware we are. It's the foundation of collaboration. Simon Sinek also explained the emotional impact of leader’s actions on the employees’ neurotransmitters in this in-depth talk: ‘Why leaders eat last

Many other scholars including, Dr. Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Dr. Daniel Goleman, co-director the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, have also done a lot of research in this field coming to the same conclusion.

Resonant leaders put a person into a positive state, in which they could build relationships, think creatively, remain open, and approach people. Imagine the power of resonant relationships at work!

Inspiring, exciting, and motivating people instead of judging, evaluating, assessing them

From Threat to Quest

Benjamin Zander is the co-author of ‘Art of possibility’, conductor at Boston philharmonic orchestra, popular motivational speaker and a teacher.

He gives an A grade to everyone in his class at the first day. He says, just like we don’t name our children as an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into, we need to gives them grades to awaken the possibility instead of focusing on gaps.

Here is a short video of Benjamin Zander talking at a conference organized by National College for School Leadership, that I highly recommend watching:

Now let me take you to the headquarters of Nordstrom in Seattle Washington. Nordstrom innovation labs, has a ritual of doing ‘failure bows’ for any mistakes made by their people (e.g. breaking the integration build) and everyone responds back by applauding! Yes… applauding. Not giving a frown that we are used receiving commonly.

If we judge, evaluate and assess people, we will inflict fear in the system. If there is fear in the system, people will try to avoid making mistakes. The easiest way to avoid mistakes is to avoid attempts. That’s how we end up with apathetic and disengaged employees - people who posture around and are not committed to improving anything.

Inspiring, exciting, and motivating people is important. Awakening possibility is important. As Benjamin says, we need to ask ourselves, “Are their eyes shining?” And if their eyes are not shining, we should ask ourselves, “Who am I being, that their eyes are not shining?"

We have to move people from ‘threat’ to ‘quest’!

Inviting people towards a vision instead of focusing on their tasks completion

Push vs Pull

"If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you” - Steve Jobs.

Roman Pichler recommends creating a product vision that motivates people, connects them to the product, and inspires them. He asks people to make their vision broad and ambitious so that it engages people, drives teamwork and can facilities a change in the strategy. His "Eight Tips for Creating a Compelling Product Vision" applies equally to team vision, transformation vision, change management vision and company vision.

We need to inspire people with a broad, engaging and motivating vision. Ewan O'Leary expressed this very succinctly in this LinkedIn post "The opposite of a Job is a Purpose"

The Local Optimization problem

If we give people task, they will try to be the best at “that task” and optimize locally, even at the cost of compromising the bigger organizational/ team goals. As Dean Leffingwell said, “There is more value created with overall alignment than local excellence”

Theory X and Y

Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous X-Y theory in his 1960 book 'The Human Side of Enterprise'

Theory X is ‘authoritarian management’ style and operates under the assumption that average person dislikes work and will avoid work, therefore must be forced toward the objectives.

Theory Y is ‘participative management style and operates under the assumption that average person likes their work and will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of objectives without external control and that the commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.

If you are thinking that you have to switch from X to Y style based on whether or not people are self-driven - You are forgetting that it’s YOUR job to drive them. With a purpose...with a vision!

If your team doesn't have a vision, take out time to create one. It’s worth it!

Enabling self-organization instead of exerting centralized control

Napoleon reviews captured Prussian battle standards (Image courtesy of:

Battle of Jena-Auerstedt (Prussians vs Napoleon)

On 14th October 1806, two Prussian armies were shattered and defeated by a French army. Prussians were the most successful and admired armies in Europe. Even Napoleon could not believe this happened!

Prussia's main weakness:

  • Very weak high command structure that included command positions being held by multiple officers

  • Most of the divisions were poorly organized and did not communicate well with each other

In an article analyzing the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, “The Prussians Are Cunning”, management consultant and historian Stephen Bungay pointed out lessons that can be learned from this battle (excerpted below):

  • Fear of retribution should not curb the willingness of subordinates to exercise their judgment

  • Specifying too much detail actually creates uncertainty if things do not turn out as anticipated

  • The chain of command can get disrupted, so people at all the levels must remain in charge

  • Encourage people to adapt their actions to realize the overall intention

Creative Economy

Steve Denning, Director of the Scrum Alliance has beautifully explained why hierarchical bureaucracy is outdated in emerging economy of the 21st Century (Refer: Steven Denning’s Creative Economy Presentation)

Hierarchical, bureaucratic, centralized, ‘hub & spoke’ management style helps get semi-skilled workers perform repetitive works efficiently while coordinating those efforts so that products could be produced in large quantities

Today’s world is uncertain, competitive and complex. Market conditions keep changing. Hence, we need collaborative management practices and leaders who will enable Self-Organization!

The ‘How’ question

If you want to learn HOW to lead & influence self-organization, refer to Mike Cohn’s presentation Leading Self-Organizing teams (or better read that chapter in his book “Succeeding with Agile”)

If you want to indulge yourself with deeper scientific knowledge, you may sift your way through Dr. Glenda Eoyang’s dissertation Conditions for Self Organizing in Human Systems

Cultivating intrinsic motivation instead of exploiting extrinsic motivation

"I am a big proponent of the stick, because carrots are expensive and slow!"

A senior leader of a Fortune 100 organization took the opportunity to check in on an Agile transformation I was coaching. When the subject of motivation came up, this leaders said, "I am a big proponent of the stick, because carrots are expensive and slow!"

(If you don’t know Carrot and Stick analogy, carrot is reward given to horses to make them run faster and stick is punishment to achieve the same purpose)

Sadly enough, most of us still motivate people with Fear, Anger, Bonuses and Promotions! I must admit - I have myself colluded with this dark side of motivation at many occasions. It's almost a knee jerk reaction to most of us. It's convenient and shows immediate results (however superficial and illusory).

Fear, Anger, Bonuses, Promotions are all extrinsic motivations. It may work on short term, but it kills intrinsic motivation, destroys collaboration and create disengaged workplace.

Image courtesy: Clipart from

Purpose-maximizing gene, FLOW and Drive

We need money to meet our basic needs, but beyond that we seek purposeful living. Abraham Maslow explained this through Maslow’s hierarchy. Humans are not only profit maximizers but also purpose maximizes.

Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term ‘FLOW’ to define a state of ‘ecstasy’ and ultimate happiness reported by people when they are fully immersed in the task at hand like playing guitar, dancing, or solving a math problem. He described

FLOW as "the developed capacity of the ego to Master a skill". Mastery feels good!

How do we cultivate intrinsic motivation? Daniel Pink helped us with the three pieces that solve this puzzle (Refer to his Ted Talk: Drive for a summary), viz.,

  • Autonomy

  • Mastery

  • Purpose

Let’s move away from ‘carrot & sticks’ and learn to cultivate the ultimate driving power - The Intrinsic Motivation!

Embracing and exploiting diversity instead of seeking conformance

Mob mentality

Five monkeys were placed in a cage. In the middle of the cage, there was a ladder with a bunch of bananas on top. One of the monkeys attempted to get the banana and climbed the ladder, cold water was sprayed on all the monkeys. After a little while another money attempted to get the bananas and same thing happened again. After a while none of the monkeys dared to get the bananas.

One of the monkeys was then replaced with a new monkey. The new monkey, unaware of the situation, raced to get the banana only to be pulled down by the other monkeys and beaten down. The new monkey, puzzled, attempts again, until it learns not to climb the ladder.

One by one, all the monkeys were replaced with new monkeys. None of them have ever been sprayed by water. None of them lets the others climb the ladder. None of them know why. The rules have been set!

This is believed to be a thought-experiment of G.R. Stephenson. There is no evidence that the experiment itself actually happened. Nonetheless, it explains the Mob mentality.

“That’s the way it’s always been around here” is a manifestation of such conformance in corporate culture

Complex Adaptive Systems

An organization is a “Complex Adaptive System”. In a complex adaptive system, diversity makes fundamental contributions to system performance. Scott Page, in his book “Diversity and Complexity” explains how diversity underpins system level robustness, allowing for multiple responses to changing conditions (both external shocks and internal adaptations); how it provides the seeds for large events by creating outliers that fuel tipping points; and how it drives novelty and innovation.

Evolutionary studies have also shown us that biodiversity can support a species to evolve and persist even in environments where it was previously thought impossible (Refer: 'Importance of diversity. Reconciling natural selection and noncompetitive processes')

To embrace and exploit diversity of ideas, management has to decentralize decision-making. MIT Professor Thomas W. Malone explains three general benefits of decentralization:

  • Encourages motivation and creativity

  • Allows many minds to work simultaneously on the same problem

  • Accommodates flexibility and individualization

Dr Keith Sawyer has done lot of studies on the topic of collaboration and published a book, “Group Genius, the creative power of collaboration” The key takeaway of this book is that a group has much higher creative power than the sum of all individuals due to the diversity of ideas involved.

Conformance dampens this diversity and dilutes the outcome. We need to respect diversity, in order to be robust, adaptable and innovative.

Originally published at: Scrum Alliance

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