Working with adaptive teams embedded within command and control organizations, I’ve noticed an unfortunate and entirely unnecessary phenomenon.
Adaptive groups rail against their management betters while those very managers eye their adaptive teams with a wary eye.
It’s a brutal cycle that breeds mistrust and anger at all levels and poisons any change effort championed from above. So I often find myself in the position of telling the adaptive teams to stop blaming the managers. Why? Because managers are just as trapped in the command and control culture as they are.
It’s simply a matter of perspective.
It’s not a shock that an adaptive team inside a mass production organization would see the world very differently from a manager that doesn’t understand where they are coming from.
Regardless, what is needed to get over the inherent mistrust is a blame-free approach from all parties. Adaptive teams shouldn’t blame managers and management should allow the teams to experiment and learn.
When I point this out to adaptive teams, a figurative light bulb goes off as they recognize in themselves a small bit of hypocrisy. They blame management for criticizing them while being almost reflexively anti-management.
By blaming managers who are stuck in the same system, these teams are simply perpetuating the negative and reinforcing unhelpful attitudes. And the only real way to get beyond it to recognize the bias and work to eliminate it.
Since adaptive teams are generally those driving innovation within an organization, changing the management structure to that of adaptivity is usually the logical solution
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