Towards a Legacy Mindset
“The reasonable man accommodates himself to the world as it is. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw Introduction Ten years has now passed since The Five Minds of a Manager (Gosling & Mintzberg 2003) was published in Harvard Business Review. In that time, the world has accelerated, becoming more connected, but more volatile, more uncertain, more complex and more ambiguous (Johansen 2009). The credit crunch of 2008 and the prolonged economic recession that has ensued has provoked widespread public debate on the future of capitalism, the purpose of business and even the validity of Gross Domestic Product as a measure of progress. Nevertheless, inclusive economic growth remains necessary to lift people out of poverty and improve the quality of life of billions around the world, and there is a growing recognition amongst more progressive businesses that higher purpose is needed alongside profit generation. Organisations are increasingly aware of their responsibilities, not only to shareholders, employees and customers, but to wider stakeholders; not just NGOs and policymakers, but to the ecosphere and to unborn generations. The most progressive organisations realise that they must play a part in reversing the environmental and social fallout from the Industrial Age (Senge 2010) by helping to re-engineer the economy and society to keep within the limits of One Planet. Against this backdrop, the role of the manager is as challenging as ever and it could be argued that the Five Minds framework provides sufficiently for managers in this changing context; a reflective, worldly, collaborative manager is likely to be cogniscent of the changing world around him/her - of changing expectations and rules of engagement. And as an analytical, action-orientated manager he/she is likely to digest and synthesize information around him/her, process it into useful patterns and insights to make decisions on and then take action. Irrespective of how the world changes, the Five Minds framework is as applicable as ever in attuning the manager to his/her changing environment. However, there is a flaw in the Five Minds framework that this growing sense of individual and collective planetary responsibility throws into relief.
Cooke, A.J. (2013). Towards a Legacy Mindset. MBA Programme, University of Exeter.
The Flaw in the Five Minds Framework The Five Minds framework is designed to support the practising manager in becoming a more effective manager. But to what purpose and with what motives? Against what moral compass and in whose interest? There is an inherent assumption in the Five Minds framework that a more effective manager will do more good than an ineffective manager; but here is the flaw. What if that manager is guided by ill-intent and is bereft of sound morals and ethics? In such circumstances, the Five Minds framework would serve that manager just as well. In an organisation where the prevailing culture is one of deceit and greed, who could blame the ambitious manager for employing the Five Minds framework as a tool to get ahead? “Everyone realizes how praiseworthy it is for a prince to honour his word and to be straightforward rather than crafty in his dealings; nonetheless, the contemporary experience shows that princes who have achieved great things have been those who have given their word lightly, who have known how to trick men with their cunning, and who, in the end, have overcome those abiding by honest principles.” Niccolo Machiavelli
Machiavelli’s words are as true today as they were in the early 1500s. Organisations worldwide are littered with successful managers and leaders who have got to where they are through ruthlessness and cunning. But is it true that such attributes are vehicles of evil and selfinterest? They often tend to be, but it is far from inevitable....