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Adding agility to a traditional management operating system.

In a previous post, we discussed the benefits to miners of focus, simplification and delegation according to the principles of TOC. We did not deal with the obstacles created by our hierarchical management structures in implementing these ideas. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: run a dual management operating system in parallel for a part of every day. Even the best managers cannot deliver what is needed within the current management operating system and paradigm. At the same time, any solution to introduce more agility risks losing the benefits of discipline and efficiency (delivered by chain of command and routinisation) from our current hierarchical management structure. A further success requirement is that the solution must involve minimal pain and effort while showing dramatic results quickly and safely. Gary Hamel says, "What's needed is a real-time, socially constructed approach to change so that the leader's job isn't to design a change program but to build a change platform—one that allows anyone to initiate change, recruit confederates, suggest solutions, and launch experimentation." The article (see link in comments) shows how introducing a dual management operating system (network change platform) can accomplish this while freeing up managerial attention and engaging employees. This happens in a meeting environment we call the "Flow Room". In this networked, self-organising environment, instead of having to push and pull employees, management's role changes to that of coaches and enablers, with employees eager to show what they can do. While this meeting is in operation, the traditional hierarchical relationships are de-emphasised and agile interactions are supported. Afterwards, the work that needs to be done occurs within the traditional hierarchy. We have seen many mines (and manufacturers) change dramatically for the better when implementing this system, by operational and financial measurements, as well as employee engagement and retention.

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