The City of Cambridge in Massachusetts has released a leadership profile for their next City Manager. We were thrilled to read the description in the Harvard Crimson:
The City Manager will demonstrate an ability to work closely and creatively with the City Council, City departments, stakeholders, and residents,” the profile reads. “The ideal candidate will address issues through strategic thinking and long term plans, seeing the big picture and taking a systemic approach to rectify the problem.”
We need a new kind of leader for our complex times and the City of Cambridge is recognizing that in their search. Our question becomes, where are people learning the kind of leadership skills that the City of Cambridge is looking for? A “systemic approach” is what we at Intelligent Management have been proposing for over 25 years but it is far from being mainstream.
Taking up the challenge to educate systemic leaders
A leader of today must construct a theory for today’s world, and must develop an appropriate system for management of his theory. Why? Because without theory there is no learning, and thus no improvement – only motion. The theory that he requires is knowledge about a system and optimization thereof. W. Edwards Deming
We sincerely believe that we can achieve a better future for everyone on this planet by shifting to systemic perspective and that this is an urgent issue. We need to educate a new generation that is capable of understanding complexity, solving problems systemically and managing operations of organizations, public and private, as whole systems. We would like to propose a program for systemic leaders that provides them with the knowledge, method and tools to adopt a systemic approach in their strategy and day-to-day operations. Here are the main points that our program contains:
- what complexity means and why it matters
- what a systemic approach entails in terms of shift in mindset: seeing the bigger picture and always working from a stance of win-win for all stakeholders
- organizations as systems: a network of interdependent processes and resources working towards a goal, based on the work of W. Edwards Deming (Deming’s teachings provided the foundations for the Japanese economic recovery post WWII)
- understanding variation, how it affects all processes, and how to drastically increase Quality (overall ability of the organization to sustain performance through continuously addressing customer/citizen needs)
- how to identify the leverage point (constraint) of an organization to radically improve overall performance and increase delivery of services (throughput) to a wider user base, using the same resources (Theory of Constraints)
- how to measure and report performance systemically
- how to manage projects systemically for maximum speed and reliability (Critical Chain method)
- how to redesign an organizations and manage it as a Network of Projects to increase Quality, accelerate Flow and increase Involvement of people
- methods for systemic thinking to challenge assumptions and develop breakthrough solutions
- methods for systemic thinking to support decision-making that takes into account implications for all stakeholders and to adopt a win-win mindset for sustainable solutions
A systemic leader must enable others to be leaders
A systemic leader must aim at creating other leaders not followers; they do so by elevating their people’s ability to address their inner drives and cater for their primal fears. They seek no control over people’s emotions; they empower them, they give them the possibility to be the best they can.
A systemic leader understands that we live in a world where interconnections and interdependencies easily go beyond our ability to fully comprehend them. There is only one meaningful role for a leader to play in this interconnected network: to act as an enabler so that the organization can deliver its purpose.
A leader understands that a system can develop and continually improve its results towards the stated goal if people in the system see in what they do for the system an enhancement of their personal life. A leader understands that what people do and what people are must be one. Domenico Lepore
See also our post: Cause and Effect Reasoning is an Essential Skill for Leaders
Let’s not waste any more precious time and let’s start educating a new kind of leader for our complex times. We will all benefit.
If you are interested in our Program for Systemic Leaders, please write to Dr. Angela Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org
Intelligent Management works with decision makers with the authority and responsibility to make meaningful change. We have helped dozens of organizations to adopt a systemic approach to manage complexity and radically improve performance and growth for 25 years through our Decalogue management methodology. The Network of Projects organization design we developed is supported by our Ess3ntial software for multi-project finite scheduling based on the Critical Chain algorithm.
See our latest books Moving the Chains: An Operational Solution for Embracing Complexity in the Digital Age by our Founder Dr. Domenico Lepore, The Human Constraint – a digital business novel that has sold in 43 countries so far by Dr. Angela Montgomery and ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York by Dr. Domenico Lepore, Dr. .Angela Montgomery and Dr. Giovanni Siepe.