Recently, Vineet Nayer, had a great post on Harvard Business Review discussing a shift from managers acting as the gatekeepers of information to navigators who use their experiences to steer the team through difficult situations and sort through information. Sounds pretty obvious right?
Nayer writes, “For the first time, perhaps, managers find themselves overshadowed by the net’s omnipresence in answering questions about the what and how. Their authority as information-providers is eroding quickly, putting to rest that once-key role. As executives adjust to that new reality, they are asking themselves what team members seek from them today.”
If your organization looks like the image at the left, you are likely already feeling the tremendous weight of continuing to protect information, holding down all of those people below from learning and growing. Seems rather obvious that organizations with these attitudes will be forced to change or no longer exist, but far too many exist within our industry.
Furthermore, when the author asked a group of young managers about their roles, they saw themselves as collaborators and mentors, rather than controllers and hoarders. Many professional practices, supported by policies and programs of national organizations like AIA and NCARB, have created paths with hurdles that must be earned, rather than creative means for accessing and sharing.
From the beginning of a young architect’s career, the focus is on counting hours with information that someone is giving you in the quest of learning everything possible to practice on your own - the goal of passing the ARE. While very few people could genuinely say that passing a series of exams encompasses everything an architect needs to know, it remains the standard all are held to. In the process, we lose hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of young architects each year who choose to work for “alternative practices” or leave the discipline all together in search of a career path or organizations filled with navigators, rather than gatekeepers.
These attitudes continue throughout all levels of practice - in fact we often see them at the most senior levels of organizations. Clearly, leaders of the most successful organizations are sharing information with their leadership teams and partners, and with their entire staff. Charting a clear course for the future, acknowledging that storms will arise, fostering attitudes of adaption and growth, and addressing limiting beliefs are keys to future success. What does your organization look like if your “structure” was more like the organization at left, rather than the traditional pyramid above?
This transformation is happening around us, driven largely by technology and imbedded generational differences. As we embrace new technology platforms for sharing knowledge, we must too address cultural issues of sharing and managing - shifting from control to collaboration. Between partners, between staff, between organizations, and between the multitude of stakeholders involved with projects. How can we navigate through the current storm and conflicts to smoother sailing tomorrow?