Live action, whether in sports, emergency rooms, or the military, has to reckon with the clock. When action is occurring in live sequences, responses are the reactions primed by previous planning and training. There is no time to solicit approvals up the corporate hierarchy. If the world is becoming “flat,” according to New York Times columnist and best-selling author Thomas Friedman, then businesses must also flatten out or else they will topple over. What is important about this change is that closer to the ground, the game is played at greater speed.
The master clock of the social-networked world runs faster. Business now has to respond in a constantly evolving context: Time to launch! Time to react to competitors! Time to reduce inventory! Time to adjust the price! Time to Twitter! Time to implement the next innovation! These responses—and many more—are now all elements of a faster, live-action marketplace.
“Empower your people” is the new mantra to deal with the speed of the ground game so that those closest to the action can operate with authority. Perhaps it is quixotic to think we can come up with new methods to lead organizations in tough economic times, when having greater control feels like the right way to lead.. The alternative is the flat, agile structure that interacts with open information and open sourcing, where power and expertise are moved fluidly throughout all levels of the company and beyond. The focus for management therefore has to shift from observing physical work in a hierarchy to regularly assessing achievement and results.
Unencumbered by the organizational checkpoints, empowered people have the authority to make the right decisions at the right time. They are free to move faster than the company rhythm to beat the clock and competition. While many senior leaders agree that leadership has to be diffused through the whole organization, they find it difficult to let go and trust their employees. They must remember that one size does not fit all. Empowerment is progressive, and there have to be different levels of empowerment for different skill levels.
image credit: gadgetcage
Live Action (part 1) is excerpted from Eyeballs Out by Donna Sturgess. Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.
Donna Sturgess is the President and Co-founder of Buyology Inc and former Global Head of Innovation for GlaxoSmithKline. Her latest book is Eyeballs Out: How To Step Into Another World, Discover New Ideas, and Make Your Business Thrive