When we talk about management models, we often get stuck.
Management (or leadership) models are like gears, we switch to the one that's appropriate for the circumstances (as we touched on in the last post).
Keith Grint touches on this in his work on "Problems, Problems, Problems". Thanks to Angus Blair for letting me know about Grint's work.
In a nutshell, Grint says we have three kinds of problems:
- Critical problems, where a commander is needed.
- Tame problems, where a manager is needed
- Wicked problems, where leadership is needed
To unpack those further,
A critical problem was 9/11. Lives needed saving. Decisions needed to be made, fast. Hierarchy became important. We see this on both starships, the Enterprise and the Serenity.
A tame problem is a puzzle that has a solution, but it's complicated (as opposed to complex). For example, moving office or launching a new product. It needs the skills of someone who can make things happen.
A wicked problem is climate change and/or ongoing terrorist threat. These kind of problems can't be dealt with using command or management, it must start by finding the appropriate question and asking it, and knowing that you don't know the "right answer".
A recent IBM study of CEOs shows that complexity is increasing (and ability to cope with complexity is still low). We need a new kind of leadership more than ever.
In the next post, we'll look at the specific qualities of ragtag leadership, starting with improvisation.
Meantime, I'd love your feedback. On track? Relevant? Not?