Traditional managing has struggled from the very beginning to decide what the enterprise ought to be that it creates and sustains. You see, it was invented not to transform enterprises but to stabilize, control, and optimize them. So somehow, when change was necessary, it was often not even considered a management activity, but an act of leadership divorced from the mediocrity-producing constraints of traditional managing. It is now evident, however, that managing must rise up to take on its rightful role in continually transforming and sustaining the vitality enterprises require to thrive indefinitely.
In Attain Vitality we covered the sixth law of managing – the law of vitality – derived in addressing when the enterprise creates value. This law calls for attaining vitality through the destructive recreation of the enterprise and completes the six laws of managing that look at enterprise value creation from the perspective of Kipling’s core questions – who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Yet still there remains one more question to ask regarding value creation, an overarching one: In what way do these aspects collectively harmonize to create value? And, we might add, how do they do so not just once, or once in a while, but all the time? The answer comes down to the unity of the enterprise, where managing functions to integrate all the aspects of value creation order to unify the enterprise, the “super domain” whose aspects must form one coherent whole.
Achieving coherence in the laws of managing involves more than their integration in the usual sense, and goes far beyond the commanded directives, controlling rules, and cascading objectives so prevalent in traditional managing practices. Coherence means consistently keeping the interactions between all aspects of the enterprise in agreement throughout all domains of value creation, across all the functions of managing, and in all managing practices, from the CEO to frontline employees.
Coherence results from ongoing orchestration that keeps changes in each element of the enterprise congruent with all the others. In order to do this effectively, orchestration happens when and how needed, not by official gatekeepers built into a hierarchical structure but as a responsive facilitation embedded in the fabric of the enterprise, bubbling up from workers to leaders more often than not as results rather than as delayed and massaged requests for permission. Though one hundred percent coherence is never possible because new opportunities always arise and they all require time to absorb, the closer an enterprise comes to full coherence, without slowing down its regeneration, the more united its elements and the more likely it thrives forever.
Coherence, therefore, registers as one of the key capabilities of the enterprise subject to the same learning and improvement as every other aspect of enterprise value creation. Achieving coherence means identifying new value-creation opportunities that align with the meaningful purpose, that enrich humanity, that attain vitality, and that even when they cannibalize existing offerings and businesses are a “go” that the enterprise is duty-bound to pursue. Instead of being a permission-granting endeavor, managing becomes an orchestration activity that nurtures opportunities while simultaneously reestablishing coherence throughout the enterprise due to the changes triggered by each new opportunity.
Coherence is thus not a static state, but one that constantly changes, producing the dynamic stability required to address continual transformation. Managing for coherence does this, more than any other way, by keeping dynamic improvement in line with the enterprise’s stable meaningful purpose. With inspiration and meaning replacing commands and controls, the enterprise becomes unwavering in purpose but flexible in achieving that purpose as it spontaneously addresses ever-emerging opportunities.
The Regeneration First Principle:
In regard to coherence and the regeneration it produces, a single first principle captures its essence: achieving and sustaining coherence among all of the domains of value creation. Doing this while adhering to the laws of managing across the whole enterprise, causes an enterprise to regenerate itself again and again, thereby sustaining its vitality. Managing in accord with the laws, incorporating this regenerative first principle, earns the designation regenerative managing, naming this way of managing after its most distinguishing characteristic.
With this capstone principle added to the others, we add the final piece to the puzzle for creating an enterprise capable of thriving indefinitely precisely because of its regenerative capability. The greater the coherence within and across all aspects of value creation, the greater the power of the enterprise to achieve managing’s imperatives and thereby exercise its full potential in every circumstance it encounters or creates.
This function of managing, to integrate aspects of value creation, requires only this one first principle, regeneration, which then points directly to the seventh and final law of managing:
The Law of Coherence
Only the enterprise that sustains coherence
in all its aspects, through ongoing orchestration,
regenerates itself to thrive indefinitely.
Coherence, the seventh and capstone law, makes one of the greatest challenges facing enterprise managing – the need for orchestration to perpetually re-establish coherence – an inherent characteristic of managing itself. Coherence closes the loop, so to speak, with all of the other laws as they continually introduce enterprise incongruities. So leaders used to proposing, planning, and prompting specific objectives and changes instead work on orchestrating the opportunities that continually flow their way simply through the enterprise’s organic regenerative behavior. Managing in this way not only produces vitality initially, but spontaneously regenerates the enterprise to put it on a trajectory to thrive. This provides what we think is the most suitable name for managing by the laws, regenerative managing. Though it may be a bit harsh to label traditional managing degenerative managing by comparison, in fact that is exactly what traditional managing sooner or later does to every enterprise it oversees: degenerate it until it becomes mediocre, and absent heroic measures, eventually fails.
So instead of deliberate and forced innovation, transformation, or burning-platform initiatives to create the future – all of which require a knowledge of that future that cannot actually exist – the challenge to managing the regenerative enterprise becomes one of orchestrating the persistent emerging flow of new possibility and the opportunities they hold through exploration, into operation, and following that through to exploitation with its own emerging flow of opportunities. Regenerative managing fully taps the highest-value resources of an enterprise, the collective imagination and cognition of intrinsically motivated workers.
Recall how the law of humanity (Chapter Five) puts the focus on the means, enriching humanity, that then produce the ends, the financial outcomes of businesses. Similarly, the law of coherence puts the focus on the means, practicing coherence, that then achieve the ends, the regeneration of the enterprise. And rather than focusing directly on achieving competitive advantage, as is the case with conventional managing, adhering to the law of coherence sustains vitality by attending to each and every imperative of managing, including its own:
Imperative to Integrate Aspects: Achieve Coherence
In adherence to the law of coherence, managing must
continually orchestrate the fostering, balancing, and
integration of the domains of value creation and functions
of managing, perpetually unifying the enterprise to
regenerate itself, and as a result, thrive forever.
By this point, you can clearly see the chasm between managing as it ought to be, in accord with the seven laws of managing, and managing as conventionally practiced for the past century and a half. Companies the world over still try to unify the enterprise by practicing authority, optimization, and favoring current success at the expense of future vitality. Conventional managing puts the enterprise on a path to mediocrity and eventual failure. Managing by the laws, on the other hand, puts the enterprise on a trajectory to thrive forever. And should that not be the goal of most every enterprise, and yours in particular? After all, if you do not plan on thriving forever, then you are going to fail eventually.
We have now covered all of the laws of managing and given managing in accord with the laws a name based on this outcome, regenerative managing. With Managing to Thrive, we tell how regenerative managing addresses the two challenges of managing brought to light in The Laws of Managing.