Anatomy of Agile Enterprise

Janne J. Korhonen

Stratification Underlies Agility, Part 7: Style

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This blog post discusses the seventh and final component of the 7 S Framework: Style. Herein, style refers to the way in which something is said, done, expressed, or performed that is valued at a given stratum.

To this end, I will turn to Fallow (2007), who draws from the attractor patterns of complexity theory to outline "attractive leadership" forms of managerial leadership at different strata as well as key value that followers seem to seek. As exhibited in Table 1, his analysis extends up to Stratum VI. I will not attempt to extrapolate this to higher strata.

Table 1. The Levels of Attractive Leadership (Fallow, 2007).

StratumLeadership StyleValues Sought by Followers
VITransculturalTolerance
VTransformationalIntegrity
IVTransitionalProgress
IIITransactionalExcellence
IITransmissionalConsistency
IFormationalAccuracy

Workers at Stratum I value accuracy. They respond to instructions and appreciate bosses who give them accurate instructions. Managerial activity at this level is supervision at best and does not come with accountability for a budget and managing people as at higher strata. The formational leaders set the fixed target standards for activities at this level. Unilateral power is seen as the only effectual type of power; the people at this level rest on the charismatic authority (Weber, 1922) of their manager.

At Stratum II, people value consistency. Deviations from expected standards are managed. The transmissional leaders of this level transmit messages about their expectations of consistent performance and behavior and how the acceptable limits are changing. The traditional authority (Weber, 1922) of the leader is not challenged by the subordinates.

At Stratum III, people value excellence. Does the system do what it is supposed to do? Can it do it any better? In order to maximize the overall effectiveness of the whole three strata system, the stratum three managerial leader resorts to transactional leadership to have stratum two managers constantly revise their processes. A transactional leader contracts exchange of rewards for effort, promises rewards for good performance and recognizes achievements (Bass, 1990). Bureaucratic devices such as incentive systems facilitate this exchange and legitimate rational-legal authority (Weber, 1922).

At Stratum IV, people value progress and the transitional leader is required. Multiple perspectives must be considered when assessing the ramifications of the transformational change from the current certainty to the uncertain future. Both current and future requirements must be considered when anticipating changes in the environment and developing long-term plans.

Integrity is valued at Stratum V, where all that has gone before at the lower strata is woven together, and the transformational leader is called for. A transformational leader provides vision, communicates high expectations and important purpose, and focuses efforts through symbols (Bass, 1990).

At Stratum VI, people value tolerance and the transcultural leader is required (Fallow, 2007):

At level two, the values were set by clarity in the local market place; now they must be set by clarity in the organization's value place--as a citizen in a very crowded world. In this world, it is the tolerance of diversity in cultural norms that determines what is acceptable. Not just how to behave at dinner, but how to establish the acceptable central and local degrees of freedom and trust to allow appropriate decision making.

In the next blog post, I will finally conclude this treatise on Requisite Organization and attempt to justify the title: what on earth do the work levels have to do with agility?

References

  • Bass, B.M. (1990) "From Transactional to Transformational Leadership: Learning to Share the Vision", Organizational Dynamics, 18, 3.
  • Fallow, J. (2007) "On Being Heard: Insights from Complexity Theory and Values as Touchstones for Effective Executive Communication Across the Levels", in Ken Shepard, Jerry L. Gray, James G. (Jerry) Hunt and Sarah McArthur (Eds.) Organization Design, Levels of Work & Human Capability, Global Organization Design Society.
  • Weber, M. (1922) Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriß der verstehenden Soziologie.

Janne J. Korhonen provides insights into how information technology can be applied strategically to catalyze organizational change and responsiveness. Drawing from both theory and practice, he discusses agile enterprise and its governance.

Janne J. Korhonen

Janne J. Korhonen is an independent business and IT consultant,specializing in enterprise architecture, business process management,service-oriented architecture and pertinent governance models. He has over ten years of experience as an architect and consultant in a variety of extensive and mission-critical IT projects. With strong theoretical underpinnings, his consulting encompasses systemic co-development of business, organization and information technology.

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