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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at www.noop.nl, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

The Problem of Top-Down Goals

02.13.2013
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There’s a problem I have with suggestions for goals and purpose in standard management literature. Most writers and consultants assume that it’s a top-down exercise, where the management team defines the direction, and the rest of the business has to be “aligned”. Only some seem to understand that reality is in fact a little more complex.

There is a dominant discourse in which it is assumed, without much questioning, that small groups of powerful executives are able to choose the ‘direction’ their organization will move in, realize a ‘vision’ for it, create the conditions in which its members will be innovative and entrepreneurial, and select the ‘structures’ and ‘conditions’ which will enable them to be in control and so ensure success.

- Ralph Stacey,Complexity and Organizational Reality

My purpose as a writer does not simply disappear when I’m part of a community of trainers who are building a business focused on management courses. I still need to write, while I’m organizing courses with others. Likewise,the purpose of an organization does not simply overrule the purpose of a team, or the purpose of an individual. The complex interweaving of collaboration and competition that we see happening horizontally between stakeholders is also happening vertically between different levels of abstraction. The purpose of an individual both aligns and conflicts with the purpose of the team, whilethe purpose of the team aligns and conflicts with the next higher levels of the organization. The alignment enables us to exchange value, while the conflict helps us to be creative and innovative. Complex systems survivebecauseboth happen at the same time. Alignment and conflict go hand in hand, both up and down.

Therefore,I strongly suggest that organizational layers are aware of each other’s purposes. Employees should subscribe to the purpose of the organization, while the organization must recognize the needs of employees. Teams will be in alignmentandconflict with the goal of the department, while the department has to allow (and even invite) the emergence of purposes of teams.

This text is part ofWork Expo, aManagement 3.0 Workoutarticle. Read morehere.
Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)