The article ‘Vattenfall splits wind business’¹ shows that the next wave of ‘decentralization’ or ‘lean management’ has arrived in various organizations. With E.ON, RWE and Metro, other prominent representatives have got onboard. What they all have in common is that they’ve come from a long and very centrally dominated phase, or in the particular case of wind energy, from a stormy phase of development. While E.ON, RWE and Metro are all cases of big flagships dominating the group, in the wind industries it is primarily individual leaders that have been instrumental in pushing forward development. Whether through central holding structures or individual leaders: The quick transformation of a large flagship with a fleet into a speedy group of dinghies requires a massive change in thinking, incredible strength and largescale reorganization or, in other words, a turnaround. It never ceases to amaze me that this trend of ‘centralized to decentralized’ and ‘decentralized to centralized’ gradually reaches other organizations in different branches.
This always gives rise to our first question: is our reorganization an answer to the symptom or the cause? There’s a crucial distinction here. Whether it’s unprofitable business areas, unregulated growth, significant ‘company life events’, new legislation or other framework conditions: If only the previous symptoms of the problem are decentralized, what you inherit (to continue the metaphor above) is a burdensome addition to the fleet of dinghies.
In addition, managers and staff are accustomed to sailing with the flagship in the fleet. New questions arise: What is the role of the flagship in the fleet of dinghies? What is the role of the commanding officers? Sometimes new managers are bought in from outside to provide new ideas. Recently, one manager mentioned that the new manager “brings in lots of new ideas and is like a whirlwind in the organization.”
My first thought was: “A whirlwind is a challenge for a naval fleet, but for a bunch of dinghies it’s a catastrophe!”
So when the answer is ‘decentralized’, it’s hugely important to look at the causes first before these basic measures lead solely to ‘disimprovement’. Every reorganization entails chances and risks in equal measure. For managers and staff a change in system means a clear change in behavior and in some cases it is also very emotionally stressful.
Often the call for help is only heard when it’s already too late. One key in these reorganizations is to support staff and managers on their new path from the outset.
The following 3 points provide some guidance in reviewing your reorganization:
Imagine you are going on a journey through the organizations in Germany. In your mind, go through the floors and rooms (you can actually do it in your organization) and look into the energies and dynamic forces of these inner spaces. What do you see? What do you feel? What are you told? How do you feel as an employee in your department or this organization? Can you win the competition with a tired team? Pay attention to your team every day before you start, during the journey, and right to the end of the journey. You can’t achieve success without it!
The ‘finger click’ syndrome
The desire for a quick remedy (improvement) for our symptoms or problems is legitimate. But often the expectation doesn’t match the reality. Everything must happen fast. There’s a strong desire for simple solutions. Experience shows that superficial solutions bring superficial results. If the primal energy of the problem is still taking effect in the deeper layers, it will rise to the surface in the new organizational form. Here again, quality wins through in the long run. Work on the causes, not on the symptoms.
The complexity of people
The organization is shaped by people, with their neural networks, emotional states and patterns of behavior. Or in other words: it’s scientifically proven that the cognitive-linguistic level alone does not have a lasting effect on people. Instead, emotions, in particular in the form of stress, fear and pain, are key factors in thinking and acting.²
¹ see http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1438433/vattenfall-
² Roth, Gerhard; Ryba, Alicia: Coaching, Beratung und Gehirn.
Neuro- biologische Grundlagen wirksamer Veränderungskonzepte.
Stuttgart: Klett-Kotta. 2. Aufl. 2016. p. 132.