I’ve met and talked with Vlatka Hlupic, Professor of Business and Management at Westminster University. We have a lot of interests in common around leadership, management, and the way the 21st Century organisation is developing and needs to developed. When we’ve met before we talked about her 6 box leadership approach, and I had commented that it sounds good but worried that it echoed Solution Selling’s 9-box model, or Malcolm Sleath’s 12boxes value conversation, but putting my particular naming prejudices aside, it’s valid stuff.
She invited me, and the other members of the Agile Elephant team, to one of her book launch events, which was last night (Guy Fawkes night — there were fireworks!) at the Houses of Parliament. The book is The Management Shift. She was inspired to write it by John Adairof action-centred managementfame, and he even recommended the publisher she should use, Palgrave Macmillan. The book is backed by research from over 20 companies who have been using her approach and leadership model. They are from small to large, in various sectors and include a FTSE 100 Company who, following her guiding them on a company wide performance improvement initiative, increased their profits by 213%. She listed other examples in Norway and elsewhere. The crux of her book is about the 5 levels of the emergent leadership model. A shift from disengagement to engaged employees. A shift from strict, hierarchical command and control, orderly structures and micromanaging to a collaborative, open culture, passion and a sense of purpose. What could be wrong with that? And the evidence of the improvements in success for her sample companies backs up her case.
She talked about continuous planning, a focus on customers, experimentation with ideas, about focusing on people and culture not just R&D. She presented a kind of organisational body scan (I like that!) and about the 150 factors of value creation that she grouped in to her 6 boxes leadership model. She even quoted one of my big heros, Robert F. Kennedy, from his ripples of hope speech in South Africa, 1966:
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of
hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
It’s all good. She did say that many other management thinkers and academics are thinking along the same lines, maybe with slightly different terminology — exactly. Her book is competing with a lot of material on open business, and the big shifts that are happening in business and the world. One big thing, which my Agile Elephant colleague and co-founder Janet Parkinson pointed out as we were discussing the session, was that she never really mentioned technology anywhere in her talk. Surely 21st century digital and social communication technology is the most significant enabler to the kind of change Vlatka’s looking for?
One thing I did take from the session — whoever is running her PR and business management is doing a fantastic job. The Grand Committee Room was absolutely packed with experienced business people, academics, and a number of people who run CEO member groups and resources. As you might expect there was also a high proportion of women, but few of the audience were in their twenties.
(Cross-posted @ David Terrar on Medium)