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Unboss Instead of Egomaniacs

Times of change are times of uncertainty. A typical reaction to this uncertainty is the call for heroes and strong leaders who bring order into chaos and show the way. On a societal and political level, we are therefore witnessing a strengthening of nationalist tendencies and the increasing popularity of politicians whose contribution consists essentially in unduly simplifying the complexity of the world by dividing it into black and white, good and wrong, us and them and other false dichotomies. In times of digital disruption, fear also increases in companies. And while in many places a strong leader is then desired, really strong leaders like Vas Narasimhan at Novartis do the opposite: “Unboss your Company!”

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Complex or Complicated?

The naive and intuitive use of language sometimes mixes and overlays things that should be clearly distinguished. Popular among editors are, for example, the terms apparently and seemingly. The former means that something probably is in fact as it appears, while the latter means that something seems to be that way, but in reality is not the case. Seemingly (sic!) just as subtle is the distinction between the terms complicated and complex. In practice, they are often used synonymously, or at best complex is used as the superlative of complicated. The distinction between these two terms, however, makes a significant difference.

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In for a Penny, in for a Pound and Other False Dichotomies

The term dichotomy goes back to the Greek dichotomía (διχοτομία) and means dividing in two. A false dichotomy is the suggestion that there are only two mutually exclusive alternatives to a question in dispute, although there are actually others or the two alternatives offered do not contradict or exclude each other at all. This rhetorical trick is popular with salespeople, for example in the form of the question of whether one would rather buy the blue or the white shirt, which deliberately omits the possibility of buying neither of them. And I also use the pattern occasionally to “facilitate” the choice of clothes for my daughters, which they of course mostly see through easily.

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Good Leadership Makes Itself Unnecessary

Leadership no longer means command and control. It is no privilege, but rather a service. And this service is to empower and enable people to lead themselves independently in the sense of the whole and thereby make those people successful. The transformation to new leadership necessarily begins with the individual and his assumptions about human nature. But this transformation inevitably irritates the organization and its culture. This new understanding of leadership, as described in the Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership, will be dismissed as laziness, incompetence or irresponsibility, as it aims at making itself unnecessary and thus challenges the grasping and sometimes frantic activity of traditional management.

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The Agile Counterfeiters on Their Way to Cargo Cult Hell

Anyone who imitates Spotify or introduces SAFe or obtains imitated or falsified agile frameworks and disseminates them as best practice will be punished with futile ritual practices of not less than 20 hours per week and employee. The way into the agile cargo cult hell is well paved with best practices, blueprints and frameworks and is bordered by billboards saying: “Don’t invent the wheel again!” Agility, however, is less a question of methods than of principles and stance.

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