Building on the success of the Oxygen project, where Google has been exploring the characteristics of good leadership, in 2012 they launched Project Aristotle, using the same data-driven methodology to unravel the mystery of effective teams. The name says it all, because Aristotle is known, among other things, for his saying that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. And at the same time this also describes the essence of the results of this investigation: a group of superstars does not necessarily become an effective team.
Many companies appear to have forgotten the very purpose of their existence. Most employees therefore answer the question about the purpose of their employer with the apparently correct answer: “To make profit”. But profit is never an end in itself; rather, it is like the air we breathe to survive and yet our lives thankfully do not consist only of breathing. Profit is therefore only a necessary condition for the survival of the organization and the yardstick for properly fulfilling an important purpose for the customer.
In the transition from the industrial age to the age of knowledge work, the relationship between employees and their organization changes fundamentally. Dependent workers increasingly become independent knowledge workers who carry their means of production in their heads. The organization is therefore more dependent on knowledge workers than vice versa. In this transition, the network replaces the hierarchy as the leading organizational principle. Leadership is therefore no longer based on subordination and obedience, but now aims at the self-leadership of the people entrusted to it.
There are all sorts of ideas. And those who have visions should consult a physician, as Helmut Schmidt once said. After all, the most important thing is that the business runs efficiently, and wild ideas only get in the way of that. If they nevertheless haunt your organization, here are three surefire ways to kill any innovation right from the start.
For Winston Churchill it was crystal clear that without courage all other virtues would become meaningless. It is not only in society and politics that we need courage more urgently today than we have in a long time; more would also benefit our companies and their employees. We need courage to make traditional organizations fit for the future. The current absolutist-hierarchical building principle has finally served its purpose. In the age of digitalization and knowledge work, our companies require a new enlightenment with a more consistent separation of powers. Immanuel Kant’s motto for the Enlightenment should therefore stand above every gate: “Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!”