Leading an organization is often described as finding the right balance—between strict control and saving space, for example, or making decisions based on fixed numbers or intuition. However, according to Proven Partners, this balance is far from optimal: it’s rather an uneasy compromise. On the contrary, the office invites reflection on contradictions, so that the apparent contradiction of both comes. It looks cute, but it’s also somewhat mysterious. This is why we asked Leo van de Vorst for an explanation.
Thinking about Paradoxes – Can you briefly explain what this is?
“A contradiction is an obvious contradiction: at first glance the two extremes seem incompatible. However, we believe that not only can they coexist, but that you as an organization are most resilient if you make the most of all the apparent contradictions: not a little of one and a little of the other, but the limit Al-Aqsa for both. Extremists.”
“We also express this paradoxical thinking within the organizational context as an inference from control and space. Together, these two extremes constitute the paradox that often occurs in organization. Because our profession has always been about organization, this is the central paradox for us.”
“When management and space coexist, you as an organization can respond flexibly and appropriately to the constant changes that occur inside and outside your organization. This creates a relationship between extremes and multi-viewing becomes natural.”
Multiple viewing? What exactly does that mean?
“Many perspectives and paradoxes challenge you to seek new challenges from new perspectives. The truth does not exist. We look at organizations from multiple perspectives, so there are also many facts.”
“This means that you can look at the same topic or situation from different points of view: you learn to look more deeply at how the organization is developing. You break free from deeply rooted beliefs and behavioral patterns.”
“First to empathize from different points of view is also a way of discovering how another person views the matter. This deepens your knowledge of the other. You put off judgments as long as possible and arrive at new insights.”
What makes control and space in it so important? What separates them from each other?
“They should not be separate from each other, maximizing both at the same time is the strength of organisations. On the other hand, maximizing control: optimizing business processes, i.e. directing aggressively on numbers using dashboards. At the same time being flexible in implementation and thus maximizing space. Then you take an approach that’s both. There’s not a little bit of control and a little bit of space, but it’s both applied at the same time.”
“The truth does not exist. We look at organizations from multiple points of view, so there are also many facts.”
“Direction ensures stability, order, efficiency and clarity. You need this as an organisation, as a team and as an employee to be able to do your job well with a workable end product or service. The space provides innovation, freedom and flexibility so that new ideas emerge and employees experience and they are given a control space to carry out their work. The trick is now She’s getting it there at the same time.”
But how do you combine these two extremes without it becoming a compromise?
“It is important that we continue to look at them as axes. You will look from the point of view of control: How can I bring so much control into my team? For example as a manager. And then you will look separately: How am I going to create as much space as possible in my team and my employees?”
“So, for example, you’re setting very clear frameworks — in other words, direction. And within those frameworks, you’re giving employees a tremendous amount of space on how to give substance to their work — in other words, space.”
Can you clarify this based on the task you performed?
“A good example is the Sending Together program that we do in the healthcare sector. Many organizations have shifted from traditional hierarchical structures to self-management teams, but they are often not entirely enthusiastic about the outcome: strategic frameworks are unclear, the organization is not flexible, teams are not working They do well together and the coach of the team is also not well-equipped to work with self-managed teams.”
“What often emerges in these organizations is that there is a need for more communication and more ‘together.’ On the other hand, this communication is necessary to reach clear agreements about roles, tasks and powers, so that expectations can be expressed. On the other hand, it is necessary to ‘together’ To create joint ownership and responsibility.
“That’s why we don’t believe in self-managing teams, but in self-organizing teams. Plus, you also leave the control from the organization and management there, and you don’t just maximize space.”
“So this requires both control and space. Making and fulfilling agreements requires, for example, guidance, while the extent to which employees feel ownership of the agreements made depends on the space available. Through Steering Together, we help organizations retain quality of self-management and add frameworks and guidance Its clear. So maximum control and space.”
Finally, besides control, are there other paradoxes within organizations?
“Control and space are the central paradox, so to speak, but we certainly know more and you can see the paradoxes in many contexts. We connect the poles of management and space and the six organizational variables of the ESH model – a management model that looks at organizations in an integrated manner – and then we come up with a dozen different ways of looking at To organizations. Within each variable you are also talking about a paradox.”
“If you apply control and spatial paradox to the changing ‘strategy’, you get the paradoxical stable innovation, for example. From a managerial perspective, the strategy is stable, with a clear vision and long-term focus. From a space perspective, the strategy is innovative, to stay ahead of the competition from through innovation.
“The trick now is to consider all twelve organizational viewpoints simultaneously as true and to try to make the most of them in the way of organizing. By applying this to all elements of the organisation, all seemingly opposing values come into their own. You do not balance but magnify!”
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