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Power as Privilege

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Recently we get more and more aware of how privilege in society works and how it affects opportunities available to different groups. What we miss out is that a similar power dynamic is in play in the modern workplace. Decision-making power and position in the hierarchy are privileges and they influence how organizations act. Not only does it make companies unprepared for the challenges of the evolving world but also reluctant to change in order to get ready for these challenges.

To change the status quo we need to rethink the management models we use in the modern workplace. Interestingly, we know the solution, except we were using it to cure a different disease. Self-organization has been widely adopted in order to improve the performance of our teams. So far, though, we failed to exploit its potential to create the workplace that is more humane, fairer, and most importantly better fit for the future.

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Power as Privilege

  1. 1. Power as Privilege PAWEL BRODZINSKI
  2. 2. TRASH BIN
  3. 3. Hello, I’m Pawel I’m white, heterosexual male living in a big city in one of the most developed parts of the world
  4. 4. Hello, I’m Pawel I’m white, heterosexual male living in a big city in one of the most developed parts of the world I’m a CEO at Lunar Logic (IT industry)
  5. 5. Hello, I’m Pawel I’m privileged, privileged, privileged, privileged, and privileged Oh, I’m even more privileged and privileged
  6. 6. According to Polish law both parents are equal when it comes to parental responsibility.
  7. 7. According to Polish law both parents are equal when it comes to parental responsibility. In case of a divorce only in 1 out of 3 of cases both parents keep full parental responsibility
  8. 8. In case of a divorce only in 1 out of 3 of cases both parents keep full parental responsibility Out of the rest in less than 1 out of 14 cases full parental responsibility stays with a father According to Polish law both parents are equal when it comes to parental responsibility.
  9. 9. privilege /ˈprɪv.əl.ɪdʒ/ noun an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or because they are rich the way in which rich people or people from a high social class have most of the advantages in society Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/
  10. 10. Power as privilege
  11. 11. Hierarchy discourages decentralization of power
  12. 12. privilege /ˈprɪv.əl.ɪdʒ/ noun an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or because they are rich the way in which rich people or people from a high social class have most of the advantages in society Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/privilege
  13. 13. privilege /ˈprɪv.əl.ɪdʒ/ noun an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or because they are rich the way in which rich people or people from a high social class have most of the advantages in society
  14. 14. privilege /ˈprɪv.əl.ɪdʒ/ noun an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or because they are rich the way in which rich people or people from a high social class have most of the advantages in society
  15. 15. privilege /ˈprɪv.əl.ɪdʒ/ noun an advantage that only one person or group of people has, usually because of their position or because they are rich the way in which rich people or people from a high social class have most of the advantages in society
  16. 16. Privilege of power is invisible to those in power
  17. 17. Is that even a problem?
  18. 18. The “ladder” promotion system
  19. 19. Women in S&P 500 Companies Source: Catalyst, Pyramid: Women in S&P 500 Companies (2019) 5% CEOs 21% board seats 27% senior level managers 37% low and mid level managers 45% total employees
  20. 20. In 2018 there were fewer women among chief executives in Fortune 500 companies than there were people named James. In that group there was only one more women than there were Johns. CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, KEVIN QUEALY, MARGOT SANGER-KATZ Source: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/04/24/upshot/women-and-men-named-john.html
  21. 21. Similarity-Attraction Effect People prefer to affiliate with those who share similar attitudes, personalities, physical attributes, and a host of other characteristics compared to others who do not. Source: Donn Byrne: Attraction Paradigm
  22. 22. The privilege of power makes organizations dumb
  23. 23. Knowledge is with workers, not managers
  24. 24. Knowledge workers must know more about their job than their boss does–or else they are no good at all. PETER DRUCKER Source: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/04/24/upshot/women-and-men-named-john.html
  25. 25. Management has neither awareness of a need nor intention to change the power dynamic in organizations. It is so because power is a privilege. We are not aware of our privilege and we subconsciously cling to it.
  26. 26. Self-organization Self-organization, also called (in the social sciences) spontaneous order, is a process where some form of overall order arises from local interactions between parts of an initially disordered system. The process is spontaneous, not needing control by any external agent. It is often triggered by random fluctuations, amplified by positive feedback. The resulting organization is wholly decentralized, distributed over all the components of the system. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  27. 27. (Oversimplified) History of Agile
  28. 28. PRACTICES PRINCIPLES VALUES
  29. 29. PRACTICES VALUES Self-organization as a team practice The principle of self-organization PRINCIPLES The shared value of autonomy
  30. 30. Scaling self-organization and autonomy
  31. 31. Decentralizing control requires decentralizing both the authority to make decisions and the information required to make these decisions correctly. DON REINERTSEN Source: Don Reinertsen: Principles of Product Development Flow
  32. 32. Alignment as a prerequisite to autonomy
  33. 33. Alignment as a prerequisite to autonomy
  34. 34. Alignment as a prerequisite to autonomy
  35. 35. Almost universally the best way for a chief executive to impact their organization is through working on better alignment throughout the organization and pushing decision making down the hierarchy as much as possible.
  36. 36. EXECS MANAGEMENT LINE EMPLOYEES EXECS MANAGEMENT LINE EMPLOYEES Gary Hamel: Inverting the pyramid Source: Gary Hamel: The Future of Management
  37. 37. EXECS MANAGEMENT LINE EMPLOYEES Decentralization of power: Dismantling the pyramid EXECS MANAGEMENT LINE EMPLOYEES
  38. 38. The hard part: we cling to the privilege of power
  39. 39. Thank you

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