Organisations in Search of a New Balance – Part 2: The Sheep Drama

Organizations don’t fall by threats they noticed in time but by threats they didn’t see coming. The low innovative power of organizations is caused by 2D-managers and 2D-HRM who didn’t or wouldn’t see the harmful impact of job descriptions and competence management on creative entrepreneurship. Unconsciously they were successful in changing a whole generation of talented people into sheep.

Job Descriptions: Sheep are Born

If we look at 2D-management we see a manager who manages his team by tasks or job descriptions. Job descriptions and the related competence management are the best practice examples of today’s 2D-management generation.

However, something doesn’t feel right with these best practices. Take away all the window dressing and the only thing remaining is a list of tasks of what a team member has to do. We always try to find the right person for a job but still, there will always remain tasks in his job description for which he doesn’t have the talent or passion. In 2D-management thinking it is generally accepted that it is impossible to organize work in such a way that everyone has a job with only tasks for which he has the passion and the talents. Everyone is expected to take up tasks one doesn’t like to do.

Job descriptions and departments have become tangible fences that box in people in their 2D-organizations. People are required to stay within these fences, to perform tasks that do not fully meet their passions and talents, and undergo training that attempts to make them do better what they do not like to do in the first place. The latter is the result of the much praised 2D-competence management.

To me it’s pretty clear: put a fence around people and they become sheep … and that is the reason why creative entrepreneurship in our regions has almost ‘totally’ disappeared. We have built organizations that turn people into sheep rather than developing and using what makes us unique as human beings: passion and talent.

From Jobs to Roles: Ending the Sheep Drama

In the fast-moving 3D-era, it is impossible to survive if we do not better manage and use the natural talent and passion of people. We need creative and entrepreneurial team players. In order to succeed we must replace ‘job descriptions’ with ‘role descriptions’.

This seems to be a simple operation, but the consequences are huge. A 3D-manager breaks with job descriptions and competence management. He makes a cast list with all the necessary roles needed to move in the direction of his vision and then he begins the search for passionate talents that fill in the roles.

In a 3D-organization HR becomes a switchboard for casting passion and talents. The throughput of people working for various managers, business units, and even organizations will be the success indicator for the switch from jobs to roles.

This proposal, however, is a tragedy for 2D-managers who cannot imagine how they need to prepare for this. For 2D-HRM services is blasphemy because they have so much invested in static 2D-job descriptions and competence management that they can’t admit having invested in the wrong processes.

For 2D-trade unions this is hell because the entire job classification system and “working for one employer” belongs to the past.

For 3D-managers, -workers and -trade unions on the other hand, this movement is an opportunity because it will enable creative entrepreneurship by deploying the right talents in the right place.

So what do you want? Sheep or creative entrepreneurs? It is not a question of money, but one of courage. The courage to change.