What are some of your street smarts

It's the time of street smarts

More urgently than ever before, companies are now needed to master these extremely challenging times of upheaval. This is where the “Street Smarts” come into play. With fresh thoughts and unconventional approaches, they are the first choice.

Corona has brutally shown us how fragile our global ecosystems have long been. There are no longer any certainties for anything or anyone. Unexpected events lurk around every corner. We don't know if or when they will come, but if they do, they will come quickly. You will redistribute risks and opportunities in a completely new way. Only the agile, nimble, smart, always adaptable market players with unconventional ideas get through it.

The crisis will change the mindsets of companies. They will be more digital as well as more agile and adaptive.

The management will have understood how valuable the employees really are, how committed and responsible they are when they are involved in the business and actually let them work in a self-organized manner. It just takes exactly Not for everything the blessing "from above".

The crisis has also shown the leaders how quickly it can become necessary to throw plans, customary procedures and traditional approaches overboard. Quick, new, awkward decisions? Go! Spontaneous, uncomplicated, unbureaucratic? Go! The time of an outdated hierarchical top-down behavior with all its no-go-sayers is now over. You will have no more arguments “afterwards”.

No time for demagogues and autocrats

If things around us become more and more complex and we can no longer control it on our own, increasing uncertainty, if not fear, spreads. We are helplessly looking for orientation - and also gladly for a strong hand. In times of upheaval, many are vulnerable to the promises of salvation from those who loudly proclaim that they know how to escape the mess.

It is the time of demagogues and autocrats. I can only warn against that. It is an age-old dream of mankind, the one to follow who supposedly knows where to go and who thus saves everyone. Such heroic deeds are often passed on and ultimately become a myth. But of all those who went astray with their flock and fell into the abyss, one hears next to nothing about them.

The “only true” path can only be clearly recognized when there is a high degree of planability and controllability and things change only slowly and predictably.

Regulated procedures make sense in manageable and at the same time repetitive contexts. In a complex world, however, where changes come suddenly and totally unexpectedly, Command & Control attitudes are utter nonsense.

Everything that is rigid breaks at the slightest onslaught

Whenever requirements, developments, environments, effects and so on cannot be determined deterministically, specifications from above make no sense. The more uncertainty there is, the more an agile approach is required. Agile is the opposite of clumsy, sluggish, immobile - i.e. agile, flexible, mobile, adaptive. Soft and flexible, that makes a system robust when subjected to external pressure. Anything that is rigid, on the other hand, breaks with the slightest rush.

Instead of shifting decisions "upwards" as is usual in line organizations and sending them through lengthy approval loops, these are better made autonomously where they arise. This principle is called “merging competencies and responsibility”. The parallel introduction of agile working methods ensures a high degree of flexibility and accelerated working methods.

The guide only gives the rough direction. And it defines boundaries, which, like the border of a soccer field, define the framework for the teamwork.

The worst thing you can do with increasing external pressure - but unfortunately common at the same time: Tighten the thumbscrews and sharply increase the hierarchical internal pressure.

The best instead: relax like in sports before the competition, bring lightness and liveliness into the booth and let the teams fly in a self-organized manner. In doing so, leaders must first accept that their own opinion is not the measure of all things, but that there can be other, even far better ways to a planned goal.

Differentiate between type 1 and type 2 decisions

Are there any good reasons for lonely boss decisions in operational matters? Yes, these are situations that require lightning-fast action. In such cases, give your people a reason why such a decision was made. Otherwise uWe differentiate between strategic and operational initiatives, and thus also between type 1 and type 2 decisions:

  • Type 1 decisions: These are strategic decisions. These have a long-term time horizon with far-reaching consequences, such as expansion projects or new technologies. It is about the big interrelationships in the market, about long-term perspectives, about legal liability reasons, about financial implications etc., which are decisive for the corporate management. Such decisions belong in the top management group.
  • Type 2 decisions: These are decisions of operational importance. They are taken independently and in a self-organized manner where they belong: where the real experts sit, where you are very close to the customer, and where you can quickly take action at the slightest hint of an error. A team can answer almost all operational questions better and faster than a superior far away from the gunshot.

In other words: In type 2 decisions, it is not formal power hierarchies that are decisive, but practical expertise. And that makes the time for street smarts.

Book smarts and their methods no longer fit

Book smarts, the high potentials of the old economy, are being replaced by street smarts in the course of change, as bestselling author Scott Berkun predicted years ago. Book smarts are those who theoretically understand relationships and analyze them excellently. You rely on knowledge and logic and draw a perfect map of a not so perfect world from your desk.

In the bustle of numbers on the dashboards, your common sense often falls by the wayside. Bars, pies and charts are their reality. The entire corporate world is flooded with the same standard management repertoire that everyone knows from university. Because yes, unfortunately most business schools and business administration faculties are still sending their graduates into a dramatically changing economy using methods from the last century.

Of course, knowledge of books is not inherently bad. It is only problematic if you use abstract knowledge like a template instead of worrying about how to accurately transfer your approach to a particular situation. However, checklists and processes according to plan give Book Smarts the feeling of having everything under control. This is also called "addicted to instructions for use".

Street Smarts are way ahead of Book Smarts

Street smarts are those who do not rely on a map on their way through the “jungle”. You know it doesn't help at all there. They derive solutions from experiences they have already made or consult their network, in other words the knowledge of the street. And this is not in the Wöhe, the bible of business administration.

Textbook knowledge doesn't get you very far these days. Because reality is always different.

Book smarts, they are also called room economists, operate in an isolated world. They analyze and analyze. And that lasts and lasts. They are wasting valuable time that nobody will have in the future. "Paralysis through analysis" is a household word in management circles. Book Smarts also rely on know-how that will hardly be worth anything in the future. The required expertise is too fast moving.

Nobody is “educated” anymore today. If knowledge becomes obsolete faster than ever before, then stock learning is only marginally useful. Street smarts know this very well. If information is needed to approach a new topic, don't wait until the next course. Rather, you quickly start an online research. You are resourceful, interested in change and experienced in complexity. This is exactly what the advancing digital economy needs today and tomorrow.


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