Beyond Developing People

Blossoms and Bees 1

In Lean world, it is part of the responsibility of supervisors and managers to develop people. Let’s take that a step further and say that supervisors and managers should help people — diverse in education, experiences, insights, and motivations — to do more than grow; to flower.

Developing people effectively requires close attention to people’s current capabilities and future developmental needs, similar to the care one takes to properly grow plants. But go one step further and assure that the person is flowering not once, but continuously. As any floriculturist knows, trimming or pruning the plant stimulates phytohormones that in turn stimulate the production of blooms. In management terms, that means assuring that the people you are developing are not loaded with nonsense tasks. These tasks must be pruned to stimulate the flowering of ideas, for it is ideas that keep a business healthy and up-to-date.

Unfortunately, loading people with nonsense tasks happens all too often, driven by the simplistic logic that “more is better.” Meaning, the more tasks that people can handle, nonsense or not, the better they are as a worker or as a candidate for advancement. But, promotion to a higher level means that one must learn how to do fewer things better. So what is the point of loading people with tasks? The manaculturist, someone who cultivates workers, prunes away nonsense tasks so that the people who report to them can flower.

Human flowering also requires healthy soil (company culture), sunlight (clarity), water (challenge), and fertilizer (motivation). Shitting on people — blame — is not a fertilizer. It kills growth. So does being pot-bound (stuck in the same job).

Blossoms and Bees 2

Manaculturist should be like bees — not to sting people, but to pollinate them. They should go from person to person, one by one, to inspire them so that they can produce the seeds (ideas) for future challenges and success. In doing so, they will initiate production of the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine, not the “feel bad” hormones, glucocorticoid and adrenaline, that most managers produce when they disrespect people or blame them for problems.

Producing seeds (ideas) systains the regenerative life cycle of the company. As economist and business leader Dr. Oswald Knauth said long ago,

Every organization constantly deteriorates. And this is especially true of a business organization. It loses customers… It loses its personnel… Its physical equipment is constantly wearing out and becoming obsolete… It is the primary function of management to rebuild at a rate that exceeds these losses. Management can never rest. If it does, the organization deteriorates. It must attract new customers. It must provide for trained replacements in advance of necessity. It must study new inventions, new devices and better methods. It must initiate a flow of experiments.

The Dilemma of Management,” Advanced Management Quarterly Journal, Volume X, No. 1, January-March 1945

One does not become a manaculturist by simply being higher in status than one’s direct reports. It takes ongoing education and training. Being a lifelong learner from on-the-job learning is not good enough. They must be curious and constantly read books and periodicals, a little bit every day, to generate their own new ideas and incentives for developing themselves and helping others to flower. And they must engage people in kaizen or similar activities that have the effect of changing one’s preconceptions and reducing the social pressures that limit people’s thinking.

The simple analogy of plants, blooms, and pollination applied to the work of managers helps us understand what they must do. Unlike typical managers, manaculturists are, like bees, focused, productive, selfless, and efficient. They are mentally moving rather than mentally stagnant like those who are wedded to archaic preconceptions. And they exercise the mind in relation to their important role to assure vibrancy and progress for both people and the company.

Looks like I coined a new word!

Manaculturis 1
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