Managerial innovation, novelty of the moment or necessary re-balancing of an inefficient managerial relationship?

Managerial innovation seems to be present in all conversations as well as in all conferences. Besides, I talk about it and I think about it all the time these days. Today I wonder if we are “innovators”, “inno-boasters” or “restorers” of the managerial relationship ?

What is clear is that the role of the manager must evolve and refocus on the human and that for that, new skills are needed. These skills are also often just “hidden”, “buried” in us, and to allow them to resume their place, support is needed.

Will managerial innovation allow French employees to feel more engaged? This is what it seems to promise.

Managerial innovation : a restoration of the managerial relationship

Innovation, everyone knows what it is. But until now, we were more familiar with technological innovation, often reserved for R & D departments; now, innovation is global to the organization and the usual « omitted » management questions are now in the spotlights.

This new form of innovation is called managerial innovation : a new way of working, an evolution of traditional management ; an organizational model that facilitates and encourages self-reliance, at the core of which are trust, responsibility, pleasure, collaboration, agility and creativity. A mode that encourages the development of empathy, the understanding of the other and the issues of each.

I have adopted this definition of managerial innovation “Radical transformation of the modes of collaboration in enterprise in order to evolve from a relation” Parent / Child “(principle of unilateral subordination) to” Adult / Adult “(principle of Co -responsibility) in order to find the right balance between personal fulfillment and professional performance and to create new values for the company, its employees and its environment. “(

And it is by reading this definition that I said to myself, but yes, finally I am more a restorer than an innovator.

Innovators, inno-boasters or

restorers ?

Innovators, we are in a way, as we at the least, have the spirit and the objective. And I will base myself on the following definition for Innovation:

  • Introduction into the process of producing and / or selling a new product, equipment or service.
  • A process of influence that leads to social change and whose effect is to reject existing social norms and to propose new ones.

Inno-boasters, we are all a bit, of this, I am quite sure, and some are more boasters than others.

We are all a bit because, to hear us, we have all experienced innovative management methods (liberated or free enterprise, holacracy, collective intelligence, …). We have experienced them, but do these collaborative modes that we describe really win the support of the organization as a whole to enable social change as described in the definition? In my opinion, this social change is not triggered in the majority of cases.

I am convinced that in reality we are restorers.

If we look at the etymology of the word Innovation, there is this notion of “to restore” (from Latin in, in and novara, to make new, to renew, to redo, to restore, to transform, to change, to innovate). What are we restoring? We restore the management by putting it back in conditions allowing the good recovery of its operation.

Through managerial innovation, I see myself as a “restorer” of an inefficient managerial relationship, a “gardener” who comes to take care of plants that wither under the harmful effects of bad weather.

Managerial Innovation : Efficiency vs. Performance

As restorers, we only guide a managerial system that has lost its way in the absolute and constant search for performance.

 “The manager is the one who describes what needs to be done, and then ensures that it is achieved through different control devices. Management is seen as a contractual approach and the manager as a control tower “(cf Managerial Innovation – David Autissier, Kevin Johnson, Jean Michel Moutot). As performance has become the only important variable, we no longer have the time to develop skills when taking a job, or to think about our management methods and improve them. However, improvements can be found and many.

Let’s start from what seems to me the most obvious and incoherent: this Parent / Child relationship that we live in the majority of cases in our classic management models. Why inconsistent?

  1. As we move into the world of work we have reached adulthood. For a long time for most of us elsewhere.
  2. We do not endure a sudden and drastic transformation as soon as we pass through the door of the company that we would become children in the workplace and then become adults again.

Knowing this, how could we find it normal to create and maintain a Parent / Child relationship in our professional world ? And yet … This is where the managerial innovation intervenes.

Managerial innovation : the role of the manager must evolve in order to face a temporal incoherence and meet new needs

Managerial innovation can restore an adult / adult relationship and the role of the manager becomes that of a leader, a coach. It focuses on the human, on developping the skills of others.

And if we push the concept even further, even those who do not see the value of an adult / adult relationship at work, must still see the irony that there is to promote and perpetuate a management model that dates from the last century, no?

When I know that the current majority management style (of the “command and control” type) dates from the end of the 19th century, how could I knowingly promote it in the 21st century? How can we explain that we can promote technological innovation while using old methods of the last century? I do not really see any choice anymore.

Today more than at any other time, with the arrival of the new generations in the professional environment, the manager is faced with a choice:

  • Either sink into a dynamic of over-controlling teams for fear of loss of authority, with the consequences of deterioration of relations and disengagement of employees that we have been able to see and reinforce this poisonous relationship Parent / Child. (The results of the latest Gallup survey on the commitment of French workers to work, to which Challenges had exclusive access are in any case staggering: only 6% of employees surveyed in February-March 2018 say they are engaged in the workplace)
  • Or take the opportunity to focus on new priorities : develop skills, listen, value creativity, invest in what the digital can not bring (interpersonal relationships).

This is the second possibility I have chosen for years and it is with joy that I see that I did not make the wrong choice 17 years ago and that I was right to persevere while I was criticized in my younger years for being too empathetic to be a good manager.

Indeed, when I see the top 10 new skills now sought, I know that I made the right choice (see WEF, The Future of Jobs : Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 2017):

The top 10 skills sought after in 2020 is:

  1. Solving complex problems
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordination with others
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Decision making
  8. Meaning of service
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

New skills needed by the manager : emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility

We are seeing new skills such as emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility, totally incompatible with the command and control mode of management.

Emotional intelligence is a form of intelligence that allows you to train your thoughts and behavior according to your own emotions. Daniel Goleman defines it as the ability to identify one’s emotions, to understand them, to control them or to adjust them according to the circumstances.

Cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to move from one cognitive task to another, from one behavior to another, according to the requirements and to think of several possibilities at a given moment to solve the problems.

These skills are necessary and are not (or were not until very recently) taught. Especially in France, where we remained the most adept of these management methods almost “ancestral” for the new generations, relayed by our education system of grandes écoles. Fortunately, the new management courses in some of these schools have also recently adapted and it is with pleasure that I meet students (Skema Business School – Kedge – Neoma for example) who talk to me about the need to change our modes management.

Skills that we must discover or rekindle …

So how to acquire them, develop them?

First of all, training is obvious, but it is not enough. The acquisition of these skills or the rediscovery of these skills that we have hidden well somewhere in us, will be by the accompaniment.

The latter comes in the form of coaching:

  • To be reconciled with the human in the management
  • To re-welcome emotions in the professional world
  • To restore an adult / adult relationship
  • To feel confident and comfortable with our new roles

Managerial innovation : keys and tools that are not enough if used alone

Managerial innovation gives me keys and tools to realign “managers” and those “managed”, it also gives me tools to enable collaboration, co-construction, co-creativity. But as agility before that, if we only use tools without generating a new corporate culture, a social change in management, its benefits will very quickly decline. Its “bad” use can even cause more damage than the status quo. So you have to be careful, practice it with wisdom and caution, not “releasing” teams and individuals without having relaxed the structure and corporate culture.

Take for example the famous “right to the error”. What a pleasure to hear so many organizations claiming to celebrate and encourage the right to make mistakes at work. I often let myself be dazzled by such beautiful words and would be tempted to go even further with these organizations in the flexibilisation of management modes …. Except that I dig a little more and observe the ways to go before going further.

It is good for me because I observe most of the time that if there is a primary desire to review, accept and take advantage of the error, as management does not dare to display its doubts, its worries or problems, the culture of the right to make mistakes can not exist with the necessary psychological security. Faced with “perfect” management, how could I allow myself to make mistakes?

Accompaniment here will begin by accompanying the management in accepting not to be perfect, not having an answer to everything, to share the hardships / difficulties, … before encouraging employees and teams to take risks ( cf The employees first, then the customers – Vineet Nayar).

I would like to conclude this personal and introspective reflection with these words: I take and use managerial innovation as a tool, for balancing a lost and inefficient managerial relationship, that will only work with a social and a mentality change that requires accompaniment.


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