Value Management: People-Centered

Whether it’s McKinsey, Deloitte, or any number of other sources, people are rightly understood to be a key resource – even the key resource.

Diversity, recruitment, retention, wellbeing, morale and culture are all high up the list of priorities for most organisations.

Everyone wants to be “people-centred”, and there are certainly important ways in which people are treated more flexibly, sensitively and compassionately in the workplace than in the past.

Being “People-Centered” in Name Only?

And yet – to continue with McKinsey and Deloitte as examples – being “people-centered” primarily then involves implementing “the backing of the right structures, systems, and skills” and “managing their end-to-end work experience“. In other words:

  • Culture is to be created and values are to be instilled.
  • Roles are to be designed and specified, for talent to slot into.
  • Behaviours are to be chosen, incentivitised and taught.
  • Change is to be driven.

So, whilst it may not be the intention, people are still ultimately “cogs” in a “machine”.

Reflecting familiar and long-standing (but failing) management approaches, things work principally top-down, where each person has a known place and function, and where each person can be “worked on” and trained to “upskill”.

The problem is that this fails to understand that people are unlike any other kind of resource; it fails to truly engage and motivate them; it fails to recognize how they most effectively think, work and organize themselves.

The most valuable resource – people – is being squandered.

Realizing the Implications: Being People-Centered

Being truly people-centered means recognizing that it is people that are the principal origin of Complexity, and so just as it is crucial to understand how Complexity “works”, the same is true of people.

This begins with the fundamental nature of how our brains work, where (whilst much remains mysterious and debated) it has long been recognised that the brain’s two hemispheres are distinct:

  • The left hemisphere primarily deals with order, consolidation and the familiar: its focus of intention is action.
  • The right hemisphere is more about inspiration, creativity and discovery (the source of “innovation” that is so often called for): its focus of attention is the context for action.

As it stands, though, conventional “people-centered” approaches reflect all conventional approaches in that they are almost entirely biased to the left hemisphere attributes.

As features heavily in the work of Iain McGilchrist, this suppresses the at-least-as-important right hemisphere attributes, and has serious consequences:

Value Management consciously redresses this imbalance through the Things That Matter and Value Codes as deployed in Diagnostics:

To begin with, the Things That Matter capture and express purpose and Value, around which people naturally coalesce and self-organize, rather than being directed – fostering empowerment and discernment.

The Things That Matter also occupy the middle ground between abstract (broadly right-brain) and actionable (broadly left): this restores balance between the hemispheres, whilst also tapping into – and getting the best out of – both of them, to maximize creativity and effectiveness.

Value Codes are then deliberately designed to put relentless focus on the creative tension between the current and desired state for the Things That Matter – again between left- and right-brain – to stimulate mindful and insightful inputs, and reflecting how we learn.

Finally, Diagnostics organize and present Value Codes informed by a deep understanding of the different ways that people conceive of Value and think about it (Value Modes).

“Structure” is therefore involved, but only as far as necessary to facilitate, catalyze and channel engagement, creativity and motivation.

People can also engage at scale – potentially everyone involved – such that the technology that has such an accelerating effect on Complexity is harnessed to counteract its impact.

And Diagnostics also achieve authentic diversity and inclusion:

  • Diversity of participants and diversity of thought.
  • Inclusion of those that would otherwise be beyond the reach of interviews, workshops and consultations.
  • The creation through anonymity of a safe space that encourages honest input.
  • Adopting the appropriate Perceptual Position for those involved and supporting the understanding of Perceptual Positions.

Finally, being people-centered means understanding, finding, connecting and empowering the balance of people most crucial to embedding, spreading and scaling change:

The results?

  • The actions of customers and employees, partners and investors are orchestrated through a shared, identified purpose that has meaning for all.
  • The appropriate behaviors and self-organisation naturally emerge – a dynamic of Complexity – rather than being compelled or driven.
  • The true potential of human intelligence is released – augmented by AI where it is beneficial to do so.

In this way, as with technology, a principal factor in Complexity (people) is harnessed to counteract and overcome its effects.

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