Do this. By then. Like this.
“Like this” is a cage. Surgical removal of initiative, creativity and trust from a relationship.
Auftragstaktik is a form of military tactic where the emphasis is on the outcome of a battle as opposed to the specifics involved in executing it. It was coined, over a century ago, by a German general named Helmuth von Moltke, who wrote extensively about the importance of uncertainty in battle.
It applies equally today in our complex organisations. If I’m giving you a task, it is my right to say what and when, but not how. If I have to tell you how, I shouldn’t be giving you the job; it is my leadership obligation. It’s that simple.
Yet, somewhere as the path to productivity and efficiency has become a superhighway down which we are encouraged to travel ever faster, we have forgotten simple responsibility and that obvious fact that the only person who knows what’s really going on in front of them is the person doing it.
The roads we travel have unexpected bends, crests, sheet ice and escaped sheep in the road that we must deal with. Often, the only way to get the job done, to “do this by then”, is to find a different way because “like this’ just doesn’t fit.
Artisans know how to improvise to get what needs to be done, done; understand the rules well enough to know when and how to break them, and have the confidence to do so. They are not just systems thinkers; they are system doers.
As organisations under pressure become more akin to enclosures with gates, padlocks and nervous shepherds, requiring people to behave like sheep, artisans know when, where and how to trespass and find ways through. They dare to disagree.
“To take on someone else’s conversational style and to keep repeating other people’s questions as if they were our own is to exhaust ourselves. It doesn’t matter if the thoughts are Socrates or Susan Sonntag. Read and admire, but then go back to first principles and ask the question yourself, in your own way. Dare to disagree.”
The Three Marriages. David Whyte. p96
If I have to tell you how, I shouldn’t be giving you the job; it is my leadership obligation. It’s that simple.
But utterly forgotten in most organizations and homes!
I am going to enjoy your writing
"Artisans know how to improvise to get what needs to be done, done; understand the rules well enough to know when and how to break them, and have the confidence to do so. They are not just systems thinkers; they are system doers." That's a keeper. And the idea of the 'manager' being accountable for the 'what' and 'when' but not the 'how' is powerful, and one that's connected with Elliott Jaques's 'requisite organization'. Thanks, Richard.