Make yourself redundant
Let’s face it — management is waste.
If your business had a team with all the resources and skills they needed, a clear and compelling vision, and self-organised (or perhaps we should say self-managed now¹) itself into successful business outcomes — then, of course, in that utopian future we’d see no need for management.
However, that world is not yet upon us.
We rarely have access to all the resources we need — and even if we did, we’d still need to consider our trade-offs on how to use them. Skill needs continually change alongside our technologies and paradigms, so even the highest skilled people today won’t necessarily have the skills we need for tomorrow. And the ability to communicate, and then organise a team around a vision and outcome — as it is rather difficult to render knowledge².
So surely — the business needs managers to address this… right?
The changing world of knowledge work
Work has changed a lot since computing came to the forefront of our world.
We’ve moved a long way from the breakfast factory³ thinking from lean manufacturing, focused on standardisation and ruthless optimisation — to a new world, the Management 3.0 world.
A new world where we now need to understand we’re dealing with complex adaptive systems (CAS) — where our role is about establishing the team’s context, and constraining and steering the system⁴.
Management doesn’t add value to the product — it adds value to the system. Any layers added must carefully be considered on how they impact the value produced by those who actually produce the customer value.
In fact — we need to carefully consider and assess what truly needs to be managed, where we can not just empower our teams — but completely emancipate them from the constraints of the past⁶.
The true purpose of management?
Great managers differentiate themselves in their focus.
Where novice managers tend to focus on maintaining the technical expertise that got them there — a great manager only needs to accomplish two things:
- Secure, retain, and develop talented individuals
- Provide a clear and compelling vision and resources to the team
And what do they do once we have talent resources, with the resources they need, and a clear and compelling vision?
They should get out of the way and let the team enjoy their autonomy, mastery, and purpose⁷ to create a driven and engaged team.
“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.”⁷
Make yourself redundant
So, managers of the world — focus on making yourself redundant.
Like a proud parent, we want to traverse the styles of leadership to focus on moving to delegation creating empowerment⁸ — leaving the next generation to be better than we are.
With every choice, every optimisation, every instruction — look at how you can remove the system's dependence on you — creating the necessary skill, direction, and resources at the ‘coal face’ to have the team succeed without you.
Moore taught us we need to “free your resource commitments from the pull of the past”⁹ — and that includes the constraints and pull you have as a manager, containing and guiding your team within the business.
So instead of greater controls, focus on improving business performance through competence and clarity⁶ — and you will create a self-managed, skilled, and targeted team who aren’t dependent on you to succeed.
With your newfound time, you can now focus on truly new business problems and creating a strategy to identify and capitalise on emerging and growth opportunities⁹….
….or you could head to the beach and enjoy a nice cocktail under the shade of a palm tree.
- Schwaber. K, Sutherland. J (2020), The Scrum Guide, Scrum.org
- Snowden. D (2008), Rendering Knowledge, cognitive-edge.com
- Grove. A (1983), High-output Management, Vintage USA
- Appelo. J (2011), Management 3.0, Addison Wesley
- Forsgren. N PhD, Humble. J, Kim. G (2018), Accelerate : The Science of Lean Software and Devops: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations, It Revolution Press
- Marquet. D (2013), Turn the Ship Around, Portfolio Penguin
- Pink. D (2009), Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, Riverhead Hardcover
- Hersey, P, Blanchard, K. H. (1977), Management of Organizational Behavior 3rd Edition– Utilizing Human Resources, New Jersey/Prentice Hall.
- Moore. G (2011), Escape Velocity, HarperBusiness