Flat, fluid and flexible with Frederic Schneider

” people are people : they make mistakes, they’re social animals – why and when do they cooperate, what do they think is fair and unfair… ?

Frederic and I delve into the world of organisational design and behavioural economics, looking at what type of structures and relationships we need to build more agile, more interconnected and more effective organisations.

Organisational fairness requires voice and choice and we look at how this human need for fairness plays out in more fluid organisational structures. How can we use behavioural economics to help organisations become flatter in structure and understand why & when people cooperate; how they react to fairness & unfairness ? How leaders build trust and how they can incentivise their people in a different structure ?

We also explore the different leadership skills in conjunction with inter-relational fairness and the dynamics of hierarchy: ‘hierarchy-less’ does not exist, but it is more about decision-making structures, procedures, incentives and mindset.

Frederic shares his experience, research, insights and his upcoming programme for executives on building more agile, flexible and interconnected organisations.

The main insights you’ll get from this episode are :

–       Using behavioural economics to help organisations become flatter and understand why/when people cooperate; how they react to fairness/unfairness; how they can build trust/trustworthiness; and how they can incentivise their people.

–       The human dimension of digital transformation is not an exact science but feeds into the need for connection – executive education must be about navigating this complex landscape.

–       Executives need to know how to avoid biases and fallacies; understand team dynamics and unfair treatment in the workplace; be aware of quiet quitting and how to create more purpose, trust and the right culture.

–       Flat, Fluid and Flexible looks at inter-relational fairness and the dynamics of hierarchy: ‘hierarchy-less’ does not exist, but it is more about decision-making structures, procedures, incentives and mindset.

–       Dominant hierarchy (boss/subordinates with varying degrees of coercion) is out of place nowadays (e.g. in family life and politics) – we now want participation and democracy; flatness is about non-domination and rendering organisations leaderful not leaderless.

–       Leaders are roles, not people, that are sometimes needed and sometimes not – a mutual, voluntary and temporary authority, giving rise to shared and emergent leadership.

–       Holacracy requires buying into the system of rules wholesale, which in turn requires structure in the system – leaders must understand this structure.

–       Nature offers many examples of how structures adapt to evolve – organisations must dispel the myth that hierarchy is needed for progress and the management of complex procedures.

–       In nature, evolution is leaderless and a collective endeavour; removing a rigid dominance hierarchy permits variation and consent of the masses, which in turn gives rise to the spirit of emergent leadership (e.g. the queen bee in a colony).

–       A good example is the Pando clonal (i.e. self-similar) tree colony – the largest living organism on Earth – which shares roots and is polycentric in structure: highly durable, scalable, cooperative, adaptable and evolutionarily successful.

–       Trust plays a major role in the power dynamics of a flat hierarchy: game theory and the possession of information vs. the ideal of a free society of equals – the moral hazard component increases if there is greater temptation to betray.

–       Flat organisations have less staff turnover and therefore better relationships between colleagues, also thanks to the absence of promotion tournament structures that artificially create rivalry.

–       Skills needed to build flat hierarchies: critical systems thinking; sense-making; awareness of the system and its components; generating motivation for shared purpose (team of peers); upskilling everyone to be allrounders.

–       Employee development is a strength – democratising (access to) skills pays dividends in the form of a highly competent workforce.

–       Leadership skills (conflict management, communication and facilitation) must go hand-in-hand with skills particular to the environment and the sector.

–       Organisational fairness requires voice and choice – liberty is not bestowed from above but is a bottom-up process.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fredericgschneider/

Website: https://fredericgschneider.com/

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