Just over a year ago, some colleagues and I decided to find out whether Margaret Mead was right. Could a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens actually change the world? Jurgen Appelo, Franz Röösli, and Peter Stevens and I got together to see whether we could help spark a revolution in the way organizations around the world are led and managed. Fat chance, right?
Well, our plan was even more far-fetched. We invited 17 others to come to Stoos, Switzerland – a tiny alpine village accessible only by rail or cable car.
The first positive sign was that the twenty-one invitees actually showed up. They traveled from four continents to the Alps of central Switzerland with the quixotic goal facilitating a complete transformation of leadership and management in the global business landscape.
The second good sign was that the day-and-a-half meeting resulted in the group of strong-minded individuals with significant differences in point of view reaching broad agreement on what was wrong and committing to work together to fix it. They issued a simple communique that among other things described the complexity and seriousness of the problem and urged organizations to become “learning networks of individuals creating value and that the role of leaders should include the stewardship of the living rather than the management of the machine.”
The third nice sign was even more important: the advocates of different approaches to creating and sustaining these “learning networks of individuals creating value through stewardship of the living” were able to set aside their differences and get behind a common goal that reflected the commonalities of their viewpoints. The Stoos 21 declined to specify the ‘right way’ to lead or manage or any particular roadmap to success. Instead they invited others to join the movement and help make the transformation happen.
In one year, 1,500+ join the Stoos Network
The next good sign was that the invitation got an immediate and strong response. Over the twelve months since the initial Stoos gathering, more than 1,500 people have answered the call and joined what has become known as the Stoos Network.
Want to join: go here!
And follow the lively discussion about the Stoos Network on Twitter with the hashtag is #stoos.
A number of Stoos “satellites” have sprung up around the world, including six in the US, thirteen in Europe and three in Asia-Pacific. Along with several major gatherings during the year, there have been countless numbers of meetings in the satellites. So much activity has been generated that it has in fact been difficult to keep track, let along take stock, of what has been happening. These developments are really rather remarkable, given that it has all happened spontaneously without central direction.
The next step: Stoos Connect on January 25
Now a new milestone is imminent. Stoos Connect is a six-hour online event that will take place on Friday 25 January 2013, informally also known as World Stoos Day. Stoos Connect offers a chance to take stock of what has happened, to evaluate the extent of the progress, to lay plans for enlarging the movement and make the tipping point actually happen.
The center of Stoos Connect is in the De Balie (Salon), Leidseplein, Amsterdam, and features a great speaker lineup, including Roger Martin (dean of the Rotman School of Business), Dan Pink (author of Drive), Jurgen Appelo (Management 3.0) and Lisa Earle McLeod (author of Selling With Noble Purpose). Over twenty satellites around the world will participate.
Stoos Connect will be a live broadcast via the Internet. Unlike many any other online events, the broadcast is intended not only for individuals. The organizers are encouraging satellites to set up physical sites where locals can gather together to participate in the event as a group. Some twenty sites have been set up. More contact information for each site below.
Our understanding of the problem has deepened
Stoos Connect will be an opportunity to recognize that over the course of the year the global understanding of the problem that we are dealing with has broadened and deepened, both within and beyond the Stoos movement.
Thus there are finally signs that the hegemony of the dumbest idea in the world—maximizing shareholder value –is coming to an end. Despite rearguard efforts from The Economist to defend the indefensible, the Drucker Forum in November 2012 came out strongly to put this noxious idea behind us.
Another standby of 20th Century management thinking—sustainable competitive advantage—also had a rough time during the year. Today, there is a growing recognition that in the 21st Century the only comparative advantage is temporary. The forthcoming book by Professor Rita McGrath of Columbia Business School, The End of Competitive Advantage, should further drive home the point.
During 2012, we also started to see signs of reversing the most short-sighted decision in the world: international out-sourcing.
While the scariest story in the world–big banks and derivatives—got a whole lot scarier, we now have a clearer and deeper understanding of what’s wrong and how to fix it.
Overall, by year’s end, there was a much sharper and wider awareness that we are in a phase change to a different and more creative kind of economy. It’s good to see that more and more companies, like Whole Foods, are exemplifying the paradigm shift in management and urging others to join them.
So although we’re not yet at the tipping point, during the year we saw important signs that we are getting there. There is a growing awareness that the shift is a shift in the management paradigm, not just about adopting some new tools or processes. The shift is as transformational as the shift from the medieval view that the sun revolves around the earth to the view that earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. It is a fundamental transition in world-view. Once people make this shift, everything is different.
Next for Stoos: a movement of movements?
Different speakers at Stoos Connect will present their views on where to from here. My own talk will highlight the need for the Stoos movement to go beyond being a unique large-scale global movement on its own (already a significant accomplishment) and in addition catalyze “a movement of movements”.
Thus the Stoos movement is not alone in pushing for a shift in the leadership and management paradigm. Other movements that are genuinely dedicated to achieving a paradigm shift in leadership and management include the Management Innovation Exchange, the Drucker Society Global Network, the Beyond Budgeting Roundtable, the Scrum Alliance, the Agile Alliance, the Society for Organisational Learning and the Daedalus Trust.
The movements have more in common with each other and Stoos than they have significant differences.
The type of leadership and management they are all referring to is radically different from the management mindset of most of the Global 1000, from the management practices usually advocated by leading consulting and private equity firms, and from the management practices taught in the majority of courses in today’s business schools and celebrated endlessly in some management journals.
Recognizing and working together with these other movements will be the key to accelerating the transformation and getting to the tipping point.
Join Stoos Connect!
If you too would like to be a ‘steward of the living’ than “a manager of the machine’, please join one of the Stoos Connect satellites below and participate in this global event on January 25:
- De Balie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Main Venue
- Munich, Germany [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Berlin, Germany [email@example.com]
- Barcelona, Spain [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Madrid, Spain [email@example.com]
- Hamburg, Germany (external link, will open in new window)
- Melbourne, Australia (external link)
- Bordeaux, France (external link)
- New Haven, CT, USA (external link) [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Oslo, Norway (by Oslo Lean Meetup group) (external link)
- Sao Paulo, Brazil (external link) [email@example.com]
- Upper Silesia – Oberschlesien, Poland [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada [email@example.com]
- Zürich, Switzerland [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Vilnius, Lithuania (Adform) [email@example.com]
- Skopje, Macedonia (private company event) [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Chicago, IL, USA (exact location t.b.d.) [email@example.com]
- Geneva, Switzerland (exact location t.b.d.) [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Research Triangle Park, NC, USA (exact location t.b.d.) [email@example.com]
- Denver, CO, USA (Oppenheimerfunds) [firstname.lastname@example.org]
And read also:
Follow Steve Denning on Twitter @stevedenning