Why Management 3.0 fails

- Leadership

by Jennifer Riggins

I could really call this why any management workshop or leadership course fails. I’m a known hater of the MBA as a useless, overly expensive piece of paper and statement of confidence a la what the Wizard handed the Lion. But I’d be remiss to not apply that same judgment to the Management 3.0 branding and messaging which I’ve committed more than two years of my life to promoting.

Management 3.0 is total and utter bullshit if you expect it to be the magic spell to cure bad managers. Sometimes the Management 3.0 practices fail because they don’t work for your team and the context of your problems. Mostly they fail because you’re a bad manager and have no desire to fix that. 

But let me be clear — not everyone needs to be a manager. When we buy into traditional hierarchies and conventional success symbols, we think that management is a natural part of that process. But it isn’t for someone who is a bad manager, who could be perhaps really valuable at something else. And it certainly isn’t for someone who doesn’t want to manage a team at all.

So why am I trying to sell you not to come on a Management 3.0 workshop?

Why am I dedicating a thousands words to convince you to walk away?

First and foremost, while we like to sell workshops, we don’t like you to come if your manager is forcing you to.

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An open mind is rather important to this method of employee engagement. These practices are not for the team leader who takes pleasure in dictating direction via Gantt charts and lengthy emails. Our practices are there for you to experiment with when you’re ready to change this behavior and to invest a lot of time and a lot of energy into your team. And the Management 3.0 workshops welcome you to come and play with fellow leaders and to learn from the experiences of your peers. These workshops are for people who are looking to gain feedback from a diverse group who’ve shared similar circumstances and obstacles as you and your team have.

I repeat, a Management 3.0 workshop only works if you aren’t being forced to go.

Nobody wants that because your skepticism — which is different from the valued critical mindset you should bring — will just bring down the whole group. Really any management workshop fails when you aren’t motivated to take that ample time and energy to focus on learning and improvement. This is simply not something that can come top-down, but it can come if you are listening from the bottom-up, as well as if it comes from within.

And you can’t come to Management 3.0 practices and think they are recipes for instant success. If you dig through Management 3.0 Practices, you’ll find hundreds of stories of people using Management 3.0 in action. Nary a one is the same. Our practices are jumping off points for you to adapt as you see fit for your team. Or, even better, for you to adapt as you and your team together see fit. These practices are creative solutions for creative managers, so they really might not be for you.

If you are a naturally poor listener and not empathetic, no matter how many management degrees you’ve attained, you will still be a bad manager.

Just because you take a course, follow some steps and hang one of our colorful posters on the wall doesn’t make you a good manager. Certainly an MBA won’t help you either as you aren’t on the ground. Unless you’re running a remote team, you should be physically around your team as much as possible. (If you are running a remote team, Lisette has some good tips for how to be a manager on the floor, even when there’s no one to stand on.)

An aptitude for management isn’t taught in a book and can’t even come from a course. Sure, there are skills you can experiment with and develop, but the right people for leadership roles naturally evolve and rise to the occasion — or at least they do in the right environment. And, like in politics, usually it’s those that rise up to leadership naturally, instead of desiring it, that do the best job.

The ideal circumstances for someone to attend a Management 3.0 event is when you are on your way to being a good manager already. When you’re an open and direct communicator — this doesn’t have to mean you being a chatty extrovert, but rather that you find your own ways to work transparently and productively and really that you’re a good listener.

I think that’s why — despite the fact that now Management 3.0 is criss-crossing verticals and spider-webbing across departments far from IT — most of our early adopters and enthusiasts are agile coaches and Scrum masters. They tend to be the natural leaders that emerge from a team of equals. They tend to be the ones that are first to take down silos and work across the aisle. And they are certainly people who have practiced their crafts themselves before moving ahead. In my life, I’ve encountered a lot of fresh MBA grads ready to jump into managerial roles, but the most successful are people who have worked their way up from the bottom of a career, not willing to skip steps to fly up the corporate ladder.

After all, no matter how many Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker or Daniel Pink books you read, you can’t really relate to your teammates (note I always avoid the inegalitarian word “employees”) if you haven’t walked their walk. You simply can’t relate to the frustration a developer feels when she can’t fix that bug, if you’ve never been in her shoes.

So, have you walked the walk? Are you ready to take on the role of a leader good workers will want to follow? Why not try finding a Management 3.0 workshop near you! Crappy ladder climbers near not apply.


One thought on "Why Management 3.0 fails"

  • Robie Wood says:

    Very nice post! I have run into my share of managers with a long list of certifications who don’t get what their Team Members are going through. Tends to wreak a lot of havoc :-(.

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