CHANGING THE LOCKS ON THE C-SUITE DOORS (or CHOOSING LEADERS DIFFERENTLY) - because we're not scared of the future, but we're not reckless either
(this hack is available as a Powerpoint - see materials)
From small charities to global corporations, when it comes to filling − behind closed doors − positions in or near the boardroom, selection ‘best practices’ such as competencies and structured interviews usually receive no more than lip service. Even when implemented, at high organisational altitudes these practices don’t serve us well. They assume that the future can be extrapolated from the past, and they neglect intuition and politics.
The result is we choose leaders badly. We don’t progress because change is blocked by fear, inertia, the self-interest of elites, and too blinkered a reliance on science. Neither does HR’s lack of credibility in dealing with board-level power and politics help.
SHIFT SELECTION PARADIGM. The two existing paradigms that drive how we do selection block adaptability to the future. Senior organisational work always involves science, politics and intuition − so when we select leaders we should think critically about all 3.
ADOPT THE CYNEFIN FRAMEWORK as an easy-to-grasp way to integrate complexity thinking into how we choose leaders. Developed by Dave Snowden and Cognitive Edge and deservedly popular, Cynefin helps anyone talk about the complexity of situations which they are in by distinguishing between simple, complicated, complex and chaotic.
Embed into SUCCESSION PLANNING and STRATEGIC TALENT MANAGEMENT the concept of risk appetite (borrowed from investment).
-------(These points, including an introduction to the CYNEFIN framework, are expanded in the Powerpoint.)------
Thanks for the discussion to Prof Graham Abbey, Terry Hitchcock and Dr Rob Warwick.
For the hack content above plus a couple of slides expansion on each point in the solution see the Powerpoint 'Choosing leaders'. For still more/optional background, see the supplementary note.
For an introduction to the Cynefin framework from Dave Snowden and Cognitive Edge (click the link or cut and paste http://cognitive-edge.com/library/more/video/introduction-to-the-cynefin...)
For the book developing the theory (click the link or cut and paste https://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=641&calcTitle=1&pageSubject=19...)