pablo pernot

Introspection, exposure and coherence

There are many reasons why people are paralyzed. Errors in past messages, misunderstandings about tensions, difficulty in changing cultures, etc. And we will have grasped the switch between a manager who commands and the one who supervises and directs (giving direction, embodying it).

All this how to implement it in practice from Monday. This is a question that is often asked.

I have explained to you the necessary change in managerial posture and the meaning to be given.

But you would like a list of instructions to follow, so I can tell you how to do it step by step.

Well, I don’t know what you should do on Monday. Once again, it is necessary to stop the control, or wait for others to draw up a list of actions to be carried out. Especially about your organization, which is not mine. Each of the fictitious organizations I meet has a different meaning, different convictions, a different environment, a different state of affairs, different people. You’re on your own. I can give you the principles that I apply to myself and that seem to be working (people around me might not say that). But I have no guarantee that it will work with you.

The first of my principles is introspection. Nothing will happen if there are no questions. I know that in this complex world it will be necessary to know quickly how to take action or else we could think until the end of time. But you need a minimum of questioning. Understand that this word introspection includes two phases: questioning and action. This introspection is a muscle to be developed. And like all muscles at first he is weak. It’s very simple, but like many simple (and not simplistic) things, it’s not that easy to implement. I suggest we ask ourselves questions every day and put things into action: are things going well? Do I work and act as I wish? What could I do differently? Could I have made better choices? Make others and better decisions? What is the next thing to do to move forward? This is the questioning part. If we stop there, we won’t have a sense of progress. Just to go around in circles with the same questions, to feel trapped. And these personal questions will become like lemons running down a wound. We’ll want to forget them very quickly. Become a robot. Stop thinking! You realize after a while if you don’t deal with the questions you avoid the questions: are things going well? Do I work and act as I wish? What could I do differently? Could I have made better choices? Make others and better decisions? What is the next thing to do to move forward? It is dramatic for you if we manage to avoid these questions and for the fictional organization. There is no introspection without questioning, but there is no introspection without action. Putting into action is generally more difficult.

What would prevent the implementation?

First a poorly trained muscle. What is a poorly trained muscle? We think we need to change everything. That everything is necessarily linked, whether it is all or nothing. We embark on changes whose end we do not see, whose end we do not learn anything from for a long time. We want to do everything, we see too much. The actions of an introspection should be minimal enough to feed the next questioning. The effects can be observed quickly. It is a virtuous circle, I wonder I act differently the next time, I observe, I do not limit myself to this observation alone, I try to validate by repetition the result if it is good. “The best is the enemy of the good” is not such a well-known saying for nothing. Today around me I often see people who are paralysed and who no longer dare to think and even less to take initiatives.

A poorly trained muscle may also be a fear of going out of your comfort zone. What will happen if things change? We’re back to the subject of the beginning of our conversation. And what happens if you don’t change anything? Once again you make the organization your sarcophagus. Again, minimal actions are welcome: they often do not require authorization from anyone. So no blame for failure. And if there is failure, it is on a small perimeter. To get out of your comfort zone, you also need to take small steps, especially when your muscle is sore.

What else would prevent your questioning from being put into action?

The organization itself. It is not clear about its messages, its meaning, how to answer the questions asked? What could I do better, yes, but why? It is then necessary to question the manager just above, he is the one who does not play his role well. It happens to everyone, I’m the first one. And maybe we’ll have to go up and up again. And we can find the fear mentioned above. The higher you go, the more you have access to the top of the organization, the more it indicates that you are already high, even, and the more you probably think you have a lot to lose, that the fall will hurt more.

Or the organization forbids moving, changing, improving, thinking. It is time to know whether you actually want this organization to become your sarcophagus or whether you want to be alive enough to have the right to introspection.

Introspection is a setting in motion. Initiating it is often the hardest after the swing helps you.

You have to feel authorized, many things are possible, much more than you think. Managers, like team members, slow themselves down enormously, censor themselves. There is usually a lot to do, much more than people think, before it gets stuck.

Hey relax, it often happens that introspection leads to “it goes well so let’s keep going”, without lying to each other.

In parallel with this introspection, when you strengthen this muscle, you will have to expose yourself. You don’t live alone in an empty room. You are a component of an entire system, with many interactions. You need to constantly send signals around you: to feed this introspection, and to get feedback about it. If you never say what you are upset about, what questions you have, what problems you have, if you never explain what you are doing, do not expect any help, any contribution, any information, any support. Or worse, unfortunate supports that may not have understood what is happening, where you are going. Keep your mouth shut as little as possible. Learn to speak aloud.

Yes, it’s often just a matter of saying out loud what you’re thinking out loud. Quite simply, but not so easy. At the moment I am asking the coaches around me: should I continue to support organizations as much or should I focus more on beNext? What needs to be reformed in the way we operate? How should we think about the place of coaches in the organization? I have my opinion, I have an opinion, I have leads, I wonder, I observe, I look for answers. But by saying my thoughts out loud, by asking coaches, I get a lot more information and intelligence. They know that I will not necessarily like their proposals, their thoughts, or even if I like to apply them, but they also know that this will feed my thinking, and that I am even ready to fully follow the ideas of others, fortunately. Yes, it is. And everyone has the right to say stupid things in this reflection, if not how else to say intelligent things if stupid things are forbidden?

By formulating aloud what you observe, or your introspection and related actions, you enter into vibration with the system around you and it sends you back full of indications, full of information, it greatly enriches you and you enrich it, because your thoughts aloud feed other people. And then you can’t be alone in answering all your questions.

I am not asking you to say insanity or insults, even if they may cross your mind, just to describe the reason or your observations about the organization. Computer programmers are asked to talk to a stuffed animal while coding. By saying things aloud, we organize our minds, reorganize our thoughts, give them consistency. If you don’t know how to express your thoughts how to implement them? You know Einstein’s quote: if you can’t explain your thoughts to an eight-year-old child, you don’t know what you want. So simply express aloud why you are doing this, what you are trying to do.
Formulating things aloud makes them tangible, accessible, modifiable and improvable. Or saying things out loud lifts the veil on their existence, as if you were coming out of hypnosis. Benign observations: on who always sits in the same place, turns of phrase, behaviours, suitcase words that suddenly are no longer accepted when questioned.

You know the naked king’s fable, he is fooled by tailors who explain to him that the beauty of their fabrics can only be seen by intelligent people. And they sell him a suit that doesn’t exist, he accepts out of pride even if he doesn’t see a fabric that doesn’t exist. The naked king walks among his subjects thinking that others see his costume. But no one sees anything and dares not say what they see, everyone applauds this new dress, which does not exist. Up to a child’s cry: the king is naked! Reality violently reappears. We put words on it, they were said out loud.

Exposure is also about making yourself vulnerable. There are no good managers who are not vulnerable, because there are no good managers without the involvement of their ecosystem. There are no managers who live alone in a vacuum room, and there are no managers who are never wrong. There are no good invulnerable managers. Vulnerability is an authenticity, a proof of your involvement.

It is thus necessary to have constant introspection: to question and put into action the fruit of one’s reflections. Its actions are small, cumulative, easily measurable. This questioning, these actions take on a new dimension when they are shared. Without seeking results just to share them, the mixture of brains, vibrations, will do the rest. Since you are wondering, you will show that you doubt that you are trying, so that you are sometimes wrong. You will appear more vulnerable. It is a strength. Without vulnerability you are in toc, dummy.

First principle: introspection (questioning / action), second principle: exposure to share and enrich, third principle: being aligned, authentic. Almost like an ethic, a morality.

Ethics: A set of moral conceptions of an environment, of someone.

Moral: A set of rules of conduct considered good.

I do not propose the words ethical or moral as necessarily leading to good. But rather in the idea of a coherence, a coherent universe, with a meaning, an identity, convictions, an authenticity. I agree that a mafia can have a certain ethic: a set of rules of conduct judged as good, a set of conceptions that define its way of thinking about the world. Even if this ethics is probably not good in the good/bad sense.

For this introspection, reflection, implementation, sharing, exposure to others, vulnerability, to be enriched, we need this spinal column, this coherence, that everything is integrated around the same meaning, the same identity. Otherwise we go in scattered directions, everything gets lost. What makes it possible to have these small actions, these small reflections, these trials, these mixtures, and that it builds the same cathedral, the same pyramid: the same termite mound rather, is that we agree on the direction, on the meaning, on our identity, once again.

In this complex chaotic world, we move forward with a framework and a direction: meaning, convictions, identity. In this context, by following this direction, we move forward, but we need to know regularly if things are progressing. We observe each other regularly, so we have to take small steps to observe each other as regularly as possible. But so that all these small steps can take the big roads, so that all these bricks can make the right cathedral. You need to have an idea of the termite mound, of the destination, it is your sense, your direction, your identity.

If we all know what we want for our product “more new markets in Africa” (to take the previous example). That we know our identity well, for example, it is built on the values: “nobullshit”, “pursuit of excellence”, “humility” and “fun” (these are the values of beNext). That we share convictions, for example: autonomy and leadership and not order and discipline (and that this is known to everyone, constantly reminded by management). If this has been clarified enough, it becomes easy to aggregate all these thoughts, all these actions, however small they may be. Suddenly we understand that it is a piece of the termite mound, which we discover, sometimes with surprise, gradually appearing.

For it to become one, all these pieces, we need unity, coherence. An alignment. It reinforces authenticity.

We also understand why we say “no”. Management should say “no” when you leave this framework, it is the bulwark.

There is an interesting model, the Dilts pyramid. This model, which like all models is false, but useful, explains that if there is no alignment between the meaning, the why of your organization, your identity, your beliefs, your convictions, your capacity (i.e. your means), your behaviours and your environment, if there is no alignment, your organization is dissonant. Not fluid. The dynamic is broken. We are told that we exist for this, that we believe in this, but the behaviours are not in phase, not in agreement, or the working environment is very different, or the means are not given to what we believe in, there is a contradiction. With this dissonance, actions do not complement each other, do not enrich each other, but slow down, block each other down, cancel each other out.

Whether it is a mafia, a football team, an organization, a government, a book club, I think it is important to have this coherence in mind and to share it internally. It allows you to progress in small steps, but to progress far along the same road with the sum of all the small steps. It allows us to have introspection that we can share, to communicate and to expose our introspection, our thoughts.

Let me summarize.

There are a thousand reasons why people stand up on the existing, on their habits, on their beliefs, in their comfort zones. None of them seem good to me today. All of them seem acceptable or understandable to me. Especially for managers, because they have the most to lose, and will lose the most if nothing is done in my opinion. But wanting to change to change doesn’t make sense. And without meaning, without direction, we’re not going anywhere. However, we often try to make organizations move by invoking changes in the means: let’s be agile, lean, digital, all this doesn’t make sense. We need to know who we are and what we want for our organization. What is its meaning, what is our identity, what are our convictions. And go in that direction. Change, agile, digital, will be a side effect (or not, and who cares?).

For managers to become a leader, someone who knows how to supervise and guide the direction in a modern way is exciting and rewarding. But they must understand it, because they are the key to success or failure. If the reform of the organization is not moving in the right direction, it is their fault, they must hear it. At the highest link in the chain. Either they do not know how to delegate enough and send the right signals, to embody, or they do not know how to communicate, or they do not understand what is happening, or as many they are afraid and prefer to stay in their comfort zone. I don’t blame them, but don’t let them blame others. Managers are the key. Let them take responsibility! Let them realize the commitment they need.

Let them understand that today we are not going faster, for less expensive, but that we are giving autonomy and constantly adapting our product. That orders and control are counterproductive. That the difference is in the commitment. For that: still a clear meaning, clear rules, but which give space, regular information on what we have produced, and no taxation. Teams of five, seven people, eight people, ideally co-located in departments of 150 people, multidisciplinary, who can regularly deliver something. We break silos. The manager no longer says how, he no longer controls people, he says what for, and he observes the results, not the people. And we’re getting better. We’re moving forward.

For this purpose, introspection, regular phases of questioning followed by action to answer them. Then we expose ourselves to share and enrich this reflection. Finally, all this is aggregated around a knowledge of oneself and the shared organization: meaning, identity, convictions, capacities, behaviours, environment.

It is not easy, but there are a thousand pleasures, full of satisfactions, to do so.


Thanks Deepl for the translation from french.


organisation management manager posture principle principles