During the response to the pandemic, many business leaders have begun to truly recognize the limitations of the “predict-control-execute” management approach and the importance of the organizational capability of “perceive-react-adjust.”
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Although “perceive-react-adjust” sounds advanced, in practice, it still occupies a marginal position, and the prevailing management approach remains “predict-control-execute”: leaders predict, middle and senior managers control, and employees execute.
This is partly because “predict-control-execute” remains effective in many situations (such as in highly predictable traditional industries). Furthermore, the understanding cost of this management approach is relatively low (matching our cultural tradition), making it easier to achieve a unified understanding among leaders, middle and senior managers, and grassroots employees.
However, after experiencing this pandemic, many business leaders have gained firsthand experience of the differences between these two management approaches, especially the limitations of “predict-control-execute.”
What are the key challenges in establishing the organizational capability of “perceive-react-adjust”?
This organizational capability requires empowering and enabling employees the most. They are no longer just “hands and feet” but more like “whole individuals.” “Thinking and decision-making” are no longer exclusive rights of leaders but are the rights of all employees. With such empowered employees, an organization can become agile in response and action, as opposed to being rigid and pyramid-shaped.
Leaders who see the problem have already begun reflecting on it.
Leaders who see hope have already started practicing and transforming.
Organizations that have long been practicing have now started to reap the benefits.
But how do you empower and enable employees?
There are, of course, many ways and methods. This article particularly recommends a low-cost “lever” and “starting point” that every business leader can explore and practice starting from now: “transparency.”
For an organization’s members, transparency is empowerment, and transparency is enabling. Transparency is also a form of service.
In reality, you don’t need to grant employees any specific “power” or “capability”; “transparency” itself can miraculously elevate employees’ power and capability by one or two levels.
Transparency means the free flow of information and perspectives.
Information itself is not transparent; true information is transparent.
Technological means can facilitate transparency, but technology itself is not transparent.
Transparency must first come from the leader’s own consciousness evolution, a willingness to choose transparency first, and a commitment to becoming more transparent.
Transparency means leaders coming down from their pedestals, sharing responsibilities and power.
Transparency and participation are twin brothers. When you are transparent, others dare to participate. When employees participate, transparency truly exists.
Transparency requires employees to have the ability to discuss and engage in dialogues, as well as an awareness of respecting and embracing others’ perspectives.
In organizations with transparency, there are genuine individuals, including authentic leaders.
Transparency and participation are not about taking away leadership’s responsibilities but rather not taking away responsibilities from others.
Transparency does not exclude “predict-control-execute.” For relatively predictable matters, “predict-control-execute” is still an effective management approach.
Transparency will drive decision-making processes and decision-making authority, allowing the right people to participate in appropriate decisions.
Transparency will force leaders to have high standards for personnel, making managers who turn their backs on customers and only face leaders have no place to hide.
Transparency will drive the mission, vision, and values. Without a positive and common mission and vision, transparency can only bring chaos.
Transparent organizations will inspire employees’ autonomy, spontaneous collaboration, and innovation. It not only enhances the capability of “perceive-react-adjust” but also brings broad competitiveness.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought immense pain and loss, but it has also created opportunities for certain values to take root and grow in society and various organizations. “Transparency” is one of these values.
Because we have felt and seen, it is easier to believe that “transparency” has practical utility, and “opacity” comes at a cost. This applies not only to a larger society but also to smaller business organizations.
Of course, belief is only the first step. Values are not just a wish but also a capability. Transparency cannot be just a slogan; it must be collectively learned in practice, and its results must be tested.
If more business leaders are willing to practice transparency and are adept at learning it while managing their organizations, then our society is more likely to learn transparency. This is a contribution that every business, every business leader, and organizational professionals can make to society, like a spark that ignites a fire.