Reflecting on the Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership with 1 – 2‑4-All

The Man­i­festo for Human(e) Lead­er­ship was nev­er con­ceived as a text­book or ref­er­ence work. How­ev­er, despite and because of its brevi­ty, it is sur­pris­ing­ly well received as book. The idea as was born in a work­shop and it then unfold­ed one the­sis after anoth­er in social media and arti­cle after arti­cle on this blog. My goal with the Man­i­festo is to give impuls­es, to dis­rupt thought pat­terns, to point out new per­spec­tives and thus to stim­u­late reflec­tion on one’s own lead­er­ship behav­ior. The the­ses of the Man­i­festo con­scious­ly open up areas of ten­sion and thus lit­er­al­ly invite for dis­cus­sion and reflec­tion. That is why I had already pub­lished the first for­mat of a work­shop on the Man­i­festo here. How­ev­er, it was designed for small­er groups and inten­sive dis­cus­sion. For larg­er groups I have now suc­cess­ful­ly used 1 – 2‑4-All from Lib­er­at­ing Struc­tures sev­er­al times. I would be hap­py to make this work­shop for­mat avail­able as well – as an ear­ly Christ­mas present, so to speak.

What does Netflix have in common with a nuclear submarine? 

To stim­u­late dis­cus­sion and pre­pare for the the­ses of the Man­i­festo, I usu­al­ly start the work­shop with a short impulse and the ques­tion of what Net­flix has in com­mon with a nuclear sub­ma­rine. Using the exam­ple of Reed Hast­ing, CEO of Net­flix, who is proud to make as few deci­sions as pos­si­ble, I then explain the prin­ci­ple of con­text not con­trol as described in the Net­flix Cul­ture Statement:

We want employ­ees to be great inde­pen­dent deci­sion mak­ers, and to only con­sult their man­ag­er when they are unsure of the right deci­sion. The leader’s job at every lev­el is to set clear con­text so that oth­ers have the right infor­ma­tion to make gen­er­al­ly great decisions.

Net­flix Cul­ture Statement

This is exact­ly the prin­ci­ple David Mar­quet applied on the USS San­ta Fe after he real­ized that a boss who knows noth­ing and a crew trained in obe­di­ence on a nuclear sub­ma­rine is a dead­ly com­bi­na­tion. This way he man­aged that grad­u­al­ly every­one on board thought and act­ed like the cap­tain (more about this in this arti­cle).

The most impor­tant lead­er­ship task is there­fore not to decide by your­self, but to cre­ate a frame­work in which employ­ees can make their own deci­sions. That’s why Reed Hast­ings makes as few deci­sions as pos­si­ble at Net­flix and that’s why David Mar­quet no longer gave orders on the USS San­ta Fe. And that’s why the Man­i­festo for Human(e) Lead­er­ship says, “Grow­ing Lead­ers over Lead­ing Fol­low­ers.” (David Mar­quet also calls this the “leader-leader” par­a­digm instead of the usu­al “leader-fol­low­er” paradigm.)

Joint Reflection With 1 – 2‑4-All

After this intro­duc­tion and the pre­ci­sion land­ing at the the­sis “Grow­ing Lead­ers over Lead­ing Fol­low­ers” the inter­ac­tive part of the work­shop begins. For this 1 – 2‑4-All from Lib­er­at­ing Struc­tures is used:

At its core, 1 – 2‑4-All deals with a com­mon ques­tion: first one minute alone, then in pairs for two min­utes and final­ly again in groups of four for four min­utes. At the end, each group of four briefly presents its most remark­able idea or insight to every­one (can be repeat­ed as need­ed and with many ideas). The exact sequence of 1 – 2‑4-All is described in detail at Lib­er­at­ing Struc­tures.

The ques­tion to be dealt with is based on the scal­ing ques­tion, which already formed the core of the pre­vi­ous work­shop for small­er groups: Where on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 would be more like Fred­er­ick Winslow Tay­lor and 10 more like David Mar­quet, do you see your­self in your every­day lead­er­ship rou­tine today and what could you do dif­fer­ent­ly to move one(!) step forward.

This exer­cise takes between 12 and 30 min­utes for one the­sis of the man­i­festo, depend­ing on the num­ber of ideas. For the first run, it takes longer, because many ideas already come that would fit also in the oth­er the­ses. As a rule, I sched­ule such work­shops with 90 to 120 min­utes and work on two or three of the the­ses of the Man­i­festo for Human(e) Lead­er­ship with the group. Each the­sis I start with a short intro­duc­tion that does not always have to be as detailed as the sto­ry with Net­flix and the USS San­ta Fe at the begin­ning. There are already some suit­able sto­ries in my book, but there are cer­tain­ly many more that would fit. 

And in order to write many more of these sto­ries in the sense of the Man­i­festo for Human(e) Lead­er­ship, I hap­pi­ly share my slide deck here. You are free to use these slides in your work­shops under the CC-BY 4.0 license. Steal with pride! 

Down­load Slide Deck (Pow­er­Point): Ger­man / Eng­lish

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