Reinventing management thinking - Press reviews - Team Business
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Reinventing management thinking – Press reviews

IOSH Journal specializes in Health and Safety professionals

 

Review – 20th June 2016 IOSH journal

 

 

Pick up a book about stress and you won’t have to read far before you come across the “fight or flight” model. It shows that many of our physical and psychological stress responses are based on our ancient ancestors’ need to decide very quickly whether to stand or run away from threats such as sabre-toothed tigers.

 

Stress makes our managers and organisations dysfunctional

 

In this book, the main theme is that stress makes our managers and organisations dysfunctional. Psychotherapist and change consultant Jeremy Old sheds much new light on the fight/flight model. He shows that stress drives inappropriately polarised views of business problems. In turn this creates a mentality in which a quick decision is more important than the right one, ramping up the stress for all involved.

 

Using science to liberate the human spirit

 

It is subtitled “Using science to liberate the human spirit” and is split into two main parts. In the first section (“the amygdala effect”) Old sets the scene. While in the second (“releasing the handbrake”) he explores 30 stress factors, analysing how they cause stress and suggesting remedies. His central thesis is that people naturally innovate, solve problems and collaborate to ensure the success of their team or unit.

 

Unfortunately so much that passes for “management” works directly against those most helpful skills. He argues that when people are blocked from exercising their innate abilities – by daft targets imposed without consultation, conflicting priorities, and rules that demean people by taking away any individual discretion – the result is heartache, poor performance and yet more stress.

 

Old covers a broad spectrum of corporate situations. These include small owner-managed businesses, national building societies and large public bodies such as the National Health Service. The book’s large format and the use of tables and diagrams to break up the text makes it highly readable. There are also many in-depth case studies. And these bring home the realities of the corporate blunders he rightly criticises.

 

I lost my way in the treatment of the 30 stressors, especially as this gets a bit repetitive. Old uses a decimal (4.1 and so on) paragraph system but not all the time. Further confusion is added by numbered lists within numbered paragraphs. So you may end up flicking backwards and forwards so much that you lose the thread of the argument.

 

“This is a tour de force, there’s no doubt …”

 

 

The book generally offers twice as much material on understanding a problem as on solving it. While Old does offer “remedies”, they often left me thinking there was much more to be said on solutions. This is a tour de force, there’s no doubt, but some professional help with the editing would have created a book that was kinder to the reader.

 

Exceptionally good value

 

If you want a book that gives a unique, almost evangelical, perspective on where so many managers go wrong in motivating their teams, this is a most stimulating read. It’s also exceptionally good value.

Darren Slade echodaz

 

Author Jeremy Old warns managers are putting staff under stress

 

MUCH of what the business world considers ‘good’ management is in fact placing staff under stress and hitting productivity. That’s the view of management author Jeremy Old, who says an understanding of neuroscience could help transform UK workplaces. Mr Old said much common management practice is counterproductive because it triggers the stress response.

 

Stress makes people under perform in random ways

 

“Humans have thrived as a species by becoming highly socialised, collaborative problem-solving mammals. When management prevents people from collaborative problem solving, they become stressed,” he said.

 

“When employees become stressed they start under performing in random ways. As a result, the organisation around them also starts to under perform.”

 

Stressed workplaces contribute to low productivity in the UK

 

Mr Old points out that the UK is among the worst performers in the western world when judged by hourly productivity. He said stressed employees lose the enthusiasm, commitment and focus that is important for excellence. “We often see managers unwittingly provoke the stress response in a way that demotivates their teams, suppresses talent, distorts decision-making and interrupts the flow of work,” he added.

 

Mr Old gained a masters in business administration from Bournemouth University and is a trained psychotherapist. He founded change management specialist Team Business Development Ltd, based in Wimborne St Giles, and has 25 years’ experience working with businesses as a management coach.

 

He says genuine collaboration in the decision-making process unleashes the talent of everyone involved.

 

His book Reinventing Management Thinking – Using Science to Liberate the Human Spirit sets out 30 ‘organisational stressors’ that managers should avoid. He argues that people habitually sink into unhealthy ‘brain states’ at work. Whereas they show enthusiasm, commitment and desire to improve things when participating in his collaborative planning workshops.

 

Design stress out of the organisation

 

He uses ‘organisational stress audits’ to help design stress out of organisations. His approach was initially based on systems thinking and psychology research carried out at the Stanford Research Institute. Jeremy has used this approach in more than 50 assignments. He said: “I want to convince more managers that leading collaboratively is the way to transform productivity.

 

“We have to do something to stop this poor productivity trend or we will simply lag further and further behind our competitors,” he added. “With Brexit on the horizon, this is not a comfortable option.”