The complexity of work paradigm

Foto de Ronaldo Ramos

By Ronaldo Ramos*

There are fundamental differences between complicated problems and complex problems, as I have already discussed in earlier articles. There are also different approach techniques and misguided belief that we can fix complex problems with traditional tools. There is no doubt that the circumstances we face today are of primarily a complex nature.

According to the book Six Simple Rules – How to manage complexity without getting complicated, by Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman, we live in a world of growing complexity in which we still encounter two basic managing approaches.

The first is focused on processes, rules, timelines, methods and in believing that human beings are the weakest link in the productive chain, and therefore need to be followed and watched, based on procedure, monitoring and control guidelines. It´s called the hard approach. The second resides in the importance of the emotional side; employees must feel satisfied in order to produce more, acting in the construction of teams, work environment and other elements. As if we climb the ladder of individual necessities, prioritizing self esteem and social well being in the workplace.

Both approaches tend to predict and determine which human behavior is appropriate and to provide recipes to guide employees and other business personnel. Assuming that by these means productivity will increase, given that the employees needs are met, whether based on livelihood or other levels of personal fulfillment.

According to the authors, it is hard to escape the growing complication in procedures, norms and processes in companies that take in these ideas. Accountability, low value tasks and the creation of supervision layers end up being watched, which can lead to a growing disengagement based on the intense standardizing of methods and processes without leaving room for creativity and individuality.

Without the least pretention of questioning the necessity of rigid operation norms in hostile environments – or that represent any risks to the employee – neither quality guidelines that if are not met can threaten society and consumer. The issue refers to the premise of how human beings fit in the organization and how he is welcomed and valued.

All the approaches are based on the idea that human beings must adapt to certain behavior and procedure patterns (including simple rules of coexistence, respect and conduct), within a traditional perspective. In practice, it is hard to deal with disengagement – frequently attributed to the number of generations in the market and their differences in handling hierarchy, labor, leisure, multiple preferences – applying procedures that don’t differ much from each other.

Often, we observe companies that are concerned with the growing amount of stress, burnout, suicide and other mental disorders related to work. Positive Psychology tries to deal through raising individual awareness to their strong points and how to overcome difficulties, reminding that it is precisely these strong points their success.

The nature of the complexity is that no individual has a complete answer, that variables apparently independent posses a high degree of correlation with others, and that it is equally necessary that people use their autonomy to cooperate among each other, creating greater dynamic. Curiously, I remember my grandfathers telling me that in order of me to grow I would need to always keep in mind to enjoy freedom with responsibility. Back then I didn´t understand what that meant, but now it seems that it all makes sense.

The stages of human development – dependent in childhood, independent begging in adolescence and interdependent in adulthood – appear in these matters with absolute certainty. It is as if at this point organizations as going through difficulties created by the exponential technological development, by the power of social claiming and right to dignity, led by minorities and diversities. The workplace and the nature of organizations must take this into account.

Primarily by the pressing need to commit to purposes – not to loyalty to a company, brand or long term career – in the attempt to adapt to this new order. The process occurs by means of a greater opening to corporate secrets or dogmas (such as patents, sharing among inventors, growing use of robots and changes in corporate capacities), greater transparency, need for admiration, and respect for values and simplicity – that includes preserving the individual longing to take part, while respecting and considering, in diversity and in their own individuality.

To think globally, in teamwork, collectively, and to act individually.

Could this be a new paradigm to guide work contracts?

*Founder of CEOlab
ronaldo.ramos@ceolab.net

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