Collective business intelligence

Jorge García Palomo

This is not just any book. It reflects fieldwork aimed at promoting team responsibility and leadership in  companies. Yes, maybe we’re lagging behind a little and have to get down to work. Because the future, like nostalgia, isn’t what it used to be. Times change, daily life is not without uncertainty, and the challenges of this frenetic 21st century require swift action so that we’ll be prepared for abrupt social changes. At times it seems as if –to paraphrase comedians Andreu Buenafuente and Berto Romero– “nobody knows anything.”

Thanks goodness there are consultants like Juan Ferrer, a kind of entomologist of the work system. With his firm support for innovation, this prestigious teacher, speaker and executive coach preaches an unavoidable objective in the management area. In other words, he seeks better management of human resources, and a joint search for common results and values. Each individual should consider himself “an agent for change in his micro-world,” because nowadays a leader should not create followers but other leaders.

And there’s no doubt about this message: Cambiemos las organizaciones (‘Let’s Change Organizations,’ Ed. Gestión 2000). Because, he asks, what’s the point of investing in people if the organisational system constantly interferes and impedes them from expressing their talents? A resistance quite common in Spain. The author tells Fresh People Mag that “there are cultures that are less resistant to change, but everything will depend on the culture of the organisation itself. In Spain there’s still a lot to be accomplished. A few weeks ago, while discussing this with a company, they admitted to me that they saw this,  but that it would take them ten years to implement it… if they still exist, of course!”

‘Redarchy’ and jazz to fight current dissatisfaction

It all began by seeing that work is usually associated with boredom and is considered just an obligation for paying the bills. Juan Ferrer presents an organisational formula that combines economic development and wellbeing by comparing two iconic images: a symphony orchestra and a jazz group. The first is a metaphor for hierarchy and is the accepted model: a director says when and what to play. The second represents ‘redarchy’: the creativity of all the musicians, the absence of a baton, flexibility and fun. Something that would have pleased both the brilliant Miles Davis and the founder of The Entrepreneurship Club, Efrén Miranda. He feels that this book contributes to company efficiency and profitability with “fantastic advice, practical cases and analysis” and is “obligatory reading for anyone in management who want to improve their company’s results.”

So let’s get to it: who should adopt this book as a guide and why? “I think we can all read it because each individual has an ecosystem in which to be influential, but it’s aimed mainly at CEOs, directors, managers and department heads,” says consultant Juan Ferrer. “At present there’s a lot of dissatisfaction, acceptance, turf wars, frustration and, above all, slowness in responding to a wildly changing world. But there’s another kind of organisation, in which people can give their best and feel satisfied,” he adds. These pages reveal why there are more dynamic companies that are leaving the traditional ones in the dust.

Initiative, talent and cooperation

So now it’s time: which model should we follow? “The traditional hierarchy, or the ‘redarchy’ as a weapon of the future? The Teal model, based on self-management, plenitude and development? The dual operating system?,” asks this expert. He’s convinced that this is the key to success, the right road for organisations. In this sense, everything is laid out in detail. The author wants people to be involved and motivated, working for continual improvement. A more horizontal system of management that, to put it mildly, tends to cause a certain surprise: “The first reaction is always one of doubt, because there’s an automatic rejection: it shakes the present model and doesn’t propose a new one. But as people read the book, many questions are answered and others arise. The fact that it’s not theory but reality –because other companies have already applied it– makes them ask themselves if they could do the same thing. It’s obvious that if they continue to think the way they always have, they won’t be able to. There must be a change in the way people work and relate to each other. It’s like moving from a monarchy to an intelligent and efficient democracy,” he adds.

Excellence means finding the barriers, impediments and frictions that often keep a business from progressing. “A boss doesn’t have to motivate. What he has to do is not demotivate,” he points out. It’s a question of involving employees as a collective, or solving problems and looking forward through initiative, talent and cooperation. Because more than 60 years have gone by since the publication of the mythic The Leopard by Lampedusa, and we can no longer accept that “everything needs to change so everything can stay the same.”

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