4. Attitude, behavior, culture - and leadership
In previous articles, we have focused very much on the structural and organizational aspects of collaboration. However, this is not the full story. Much like an iceberg, there are essential things going on beneath the surface in collaboration. But let's stick to the visible for the moment, namely what is commonly called shopfloor management. This refers to operational management work at the "gemba", originally in production. In the meantime, the understanding has expanded to include "process-related management work" - regardless of the type of processes or projects involved. Understood in this way, shopfloor management aims to increase the performance of companies and organizations. As a catchy slogan: Through leadership excellence to process excellence.
Management tools and their effect
Systematic and consistent leadership work must be supported by suitable instruments. This is the only way that decisions can be made efficiently, realistically, and thus transparently. Today, digital tools in particular contribute to this by providing the necessary transparency, usually in real time. Closeness to reality thus often means visual management: Deviations are identified promptly, processed with a structured counter measures or problem-solving process, and then lead to rapid, measurable improvements in the work system. If this type of leadership is established in the organization, it leads to a broad continuous improvement process. Optimization becomes daily business. With a corresponding effect on the key performance indicators. Efficiency, throughput times, quality - a positive trend usually sets in quickly. This may even have a positive effect on the company's profits. But there are dangers lurking here that can halt or even reverse the positive trend. We are talking about management errors, which in turn can have their origins in organizational malfunctions. There they are again, the dysfunctions, as they are called by researchers.
Organizations or in general social systems tend to stick to what is alleged to be tried and true. A classic in this context is the persistence of centralized decision-making processes and formal management bodies that can no longer cope with the pace of the digital era. It is not unusual for the "ancient regime" to fight back by regulating and centralizing management processes even more. This leads to ever more formalisms and ever greater control on the part of leadership. And to a fear-driven hedging culture in the organization. Everyone is out for themselves and constantly strives not to make mistakes or to hide them as well as possible. This is the opposite of transparency, prevents improvements and blocks collaboration.
Whoever says A must also say B. This means that those who rely on digitally supported management tools and visual management must adapt the entire system. And the behavior of leaders. It sounds platitudinous, but it remains true: Replace control with trust, shift the ability to act and competencies to the teams. And, above all, switch from instructing to mentoring and coaching. Only through such changes in culture and behavior will modern leadership tools have a chance to unfold their full impact.
Information must flow freely
The paradigm of freely available information is virtually representative of our networked world. This is also and especially true within an organization. Those who deny teams or individual team members sufficient access to information disconnect them from corporate events and subtly incapacitate them. Again, the causes lie not only in visible rules, but also in the invisible - but very noticeable - behavior of leadership. And in a culture that distinguishes between friends and enemies.
Once again, it is not enough to introduce modern management tools and trust in their automatic success. Changes in decision-making behavior and leadership culture are mandatory. This change cannot be bought off the shelf, but must be developed step by step and brought to maturity. Beginning with an evolution of leaders toward integrative leadership behaviors. What science calls "transformational leadership" begins with the ability to listen. And not to retain the information gained in this way as dominating knowledge, but to pass it on to employees. The technical means to allow information to flow practically in real time, even across large geographical distances, are available everywhere today. All you must do is seriously want participation and true collaboration - and make it possible in everyday work, not just superficially.
The future is digital, the basis remains culture. Read the next article to find out how management and collaboration can function in detail under these conditions.
Best Andreas Romberg
 see blog post 3; Shaping the organization (Link)