In nature, chaos and order coexist. Flow and structure can also coexist, if you manage them wisely. In our hierarchical systems, specific goals and corresponding measures tend to rule. At the same time, it is recognized that innovation flows from creativity and freedom.
How do you reconcile and balance these approaches? I have found that flow can exist within a flexible structure. Overall aims and goals are necessary, with deadlines. Once they are established, I move into flow, measuring productivity each day and progress towards goals. There is open space within each day for insights, new ideas and constructive collaboration. This requires a level of comfort with uncertainty, the ability to change course and letting go of limiting structures.
Do you lean more towards flow or structure? Do you see them as incompatible? How can you balance flow and structure for maximum productivity and the best results?
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When something is rigid, it may be strong, but it also may break easily. In your managing, being rigid can give the illusion of structure trumping change. However change is constant and must be provided for, almost on a daily basis. How rigid is your management style?
What balance between rigidity and flexibility is right for you? How do you maintain enough structure to keep things going, but still have enough flexibility to factor in change?
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Free Flow Management honors freedom and calls for a balance of freedom and structure. What happens if you have a team member who cannot “handle” freedom and whose performance suffers without a balance that overly favors structure?
Flow is the centerpiece of Free Flow Management. In this situation, honor your team member’s need for structure, initially. If their performance is suffering, ask them what they need to bring their performance up again. Co-create a structure with them to do this. At the same time, coach them to find ways they can become more comfortable with freedom. One of the premises of Free Flow Management is that freedom leads to creativity, innovation and fulfillment. Help your team member align with your balance of freedom and structure.
You do not want to regress and do not have to increase structure permanently just because one team member needs it. You want to keep things flowing. Obstructions need to be addressed and flow regained.
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Free Flow Management (see previous blog post) creates freedom for your team, encouraging innovation and the flow of ideas. Key to Free Flow Management is letting go of structure, at least for a while. We have plenty of structure within organizations, but not a lot of freedom. To make room for freedom, some structure has to go.
Freedom and structure can coexist. Are you comfortable with that? Our hierarchical systems have made structure and order primary, often to the exclusion of flexibility and freedom. Structure can be rebalanced with freedom, with great results. As a manager, you may have to get comfortable with a bit of what you perceive as disorder. That very disorder can create freedom.
In your mind now, create an art canvas representing how you manage. Use one color for structure and one for freedom. Fill your canvas with the amount of each color that represents the current balance between structure and freedom for your team. What predominates? Then, create a canvas of what you think is a good balance between the two for you and your team.
What new directions can you take with the balance of structure and freedom that will increase free flow management of your team?
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