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Beyond Branding is written by members of The Medinge Group

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September 08, 2003

Why are managers afraid of opposites? 

Coincidence: I've just plotted this message's thrust whilst having a shower and see its linked to what John's just written wherever he was...

Here's a very simple idea: if you want communal practice learning, it is systemised in very opposite ways to formal teaching; if you want to value intangibles and human relationship dynamics, you manage this very differently from counting up tangibles (dead things) and transactions; if you want teams to accomplish huge innovation breakthroughs you support them to self-organise in opposite ways than the organisation's hierarchy uses to maintain its stability.

So why do managers so often say they want a new totally opposite dynamic and try to organise the old way that is statistically certain to kill it off? Opposites are good. Humans are bright enough to realise the way to work to achieve something is contextual. Why is it that the one place this natural wit has so often been suspended is wherever management believes it has a big organisation to command and control?

When it comes to one of the world's most openly networked self-organising organisations, Buckman Laboratories is many expert's benchmark. Many years ago I read some stories about Buckman's leader. One saying burnt indelibly in my mind. As leader I 'had to get over myself' before our organisation could value networking. Bravo!

Tip: having decided that your organisation is going to embrace something non-hierarchical, determine the biggest opposite that will be needed to make that work, and don’t worry about managing anything other than being transparent in permitting that opposite to bond everything people action or learn. In our Beyond network, we've experimented with almost every major opposite emerging to be of social or business value- why not ask us what we think the biggest opposite is before you do a new management practice? Our webmaster will flow any serious query through to Beyond's most relevant opposite.
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