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Meyer’s Management Models

Insightful Tools to Kick-Start Your Thinking

02 Sep

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Interaction Pressure Gauge

How much pressure should I exert when talking to people?

2 September 2019 | By |

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Key Definitions

Interaction is the process of two or more people communicating with each other, most often by means of talking. For the majority of managers, interacting by means of speech is their primary method of getting things done – their work consists largely of talking.

When interacting, managers need to determine which topics to discuss and what tone of voice to employ in order to achieve their objectives. They can intentionally increase pressure by pushing the other person, or decrease pressure by putting the other at ease.

Conceptual Model

Instead of letting an interaction unfold haphazardly, the Interaction Pressure Gauge indicates that there are three different levels of effective interaction pressure that managers can use, depending on their objective, as well as the person and situation they are dealing with. Each of these pressure levels produces a constructive tension, drawing the other person into participating in a meaningful dialogue. At the same time, the model points out that managers need to stay away from the opposite extremes of no pressure/tension (pacification) and destructive pressure/tension (polarization).

Key Elements

There are five generic types of interaction, running from low to high levels of pressure:

  1. Circumvent. Where managers decide not to bring up an issue, but rather to sweep it under the rug and engage in irrelevant small talk instead, we speak of circumvention. Such avoidance behavior can be because managers feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic (fear of awkwardness), or feel unsafe (fear of repercussions) if there is a danger that the other will react negatively. Typical circumventive interaction is full of polite platitudes and empty assurances that ‘everything is fine’.
  2. Converse. Where managers do bring up an issue, but the tone of voice is an appreciative invitation to explore the topic together, we speak of conversation. This is a type of dialogue whereby the constructive tension is created by encouraging the other to bring in new ideas and/or different perspectives. Key to an effective conversation is recognizing the other as partner in the exchange, whereby active listening and building on the other’s arguments are essential.
  3. Challenge. Where managers bring up an issue and critically emphasize the difference between their perspective and the other’s, asking the other to close the gap, we speak of challenging. The constructive tension can be based on a gap in beliefs (‘our views differ, you should change your mind’) or a gap in behavior (‘I expect different conduct, you should change your actions’). Such challenging interaction can be more one-directional (‘I think you should step up’) or more like a two-directional debate (‘we seem to disagree’).
  4. Confront. Where managers bring up an issue and express that certain behaviors or results are not acceptable, we speak of confrontation. While the challenging manager will set the bar, but will still be open to debate it, the confronting manager will make the norm explicit and demand compliance. While this interaction is highly pressured (‘this is how I want you to behave’) it still qualifies as a constructive tension, because clarifying expectations and setting behavioral rules allows the other person to align or leave.
  5. Conflict. Where managers bring up an issue, but the other person reacts by defending his/her position and trying to win the argument, we speak of conflict. The interaction is no longer a positive-sum activity, intended to achieve a joint objective, but a zero-sum game, in which only one side can win. Such a fight, which can quickly become emotional, can be due to the other person’s unwillingness to listen or deal with disagreement, but it can also be due to the manager’s destructive intention to blame or condemn.

Key Insights

  • Not one best way of interacting. Between the two extremes of circumvent and conflict (actually our human default flight and fight behaviors) there are different ways of effectively interacting, despite the many training programs that push one best way.
  • People tend to have a preference. In general people feel more comfortable with one particular interaction type, thereby often not using the others enough. This preference can be due to habit/skill (practice makes perfect), but can also be due to fear (fear of conflict pushes people to the left, fear to look weak pushes people to the right).
  • Encouraging vs. Demanding Leadership. A preferred level of pressure even translates into people’s dominant leadership style. Encouraging leaders hang out on the left (with circumvent as their pitfall), while demanding leaders stay to the right (with conflict as pitfall).
  • You can steer how you interact. It pays to be more intentional when setting an interaction pressure level. Successful managers consciously select a certain level and are able to throttle the pressure up or down during the interaction depending on how things unfold.
  • Interact situation and person-specific. Effective interaction requires that managers are not lead by their preferred approach (‘it needs to feel authentic’) but by what is needed in the specific situation and by the person with whom they are interacting (‘it needs to fit’).

01 Aug

By

Digital Platform Map

What is a digital platform and can one emerge in my industry?

1 August 2019 | By |

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Key Definitions

A platform is any type of system that facilitates many-to-many interactions (M2M). An example of a platform in the physical world is a marketplace, as it lets multiple sellers interact with multiple buyers. This is quite different than a store, that works on a one-to-many basis.
Digitalization has enabled a variety of platforms to emerge in cyberspace. These digital platforms are M2M systems that intermediate between participants, helping them to connect and exchange something of value.

Conceptual Model

The Digital Platform Map differentiates between six different types of digital platforms, based on the different forms of exchange being facilitated. Each of the six types is also illustrated by a number of well-known examples.

Key Elements

The six digital platform categories all revolve around a different sort of matchmaking that is facilitated:

  1. Digital marketplace. In a digital marketplace, multiple buyers are matched to multiple suppliers. Booking.com connects guests to hotels, while Uber links travellers to drivers. Note that Amazon started off as a one-to-many online store, but has developed into a platform by allowing other suppliers to sell through their system.
  2. Digital search. In a digital search platform, multiple people looking for information are matched to multiple sources of information. As a search request triggers the system to actively seek out the desired information, it is often also called a search engine. Google, Bing and Baidu are general purpose search platforms, but many specialized ones exist, such as Foursquare, that helps to find services close by.
  3. Digital repository. In a digital repository, multiple suppliers ‘deposit’ their materials into a type of library, to be retrieved by users at a later moment. In other words, the matchmaking is not immediate, but it can take days, weeks or years for people to view a YouTube video, listen to a song on Spotify or download software from GitHub.
  4. Digital communication. A digital communication platform is a system that allows multiple users to send messages and/or documents to a variety of other people, or interact in real time via voice as well as video. While some of these digital communication platforms have their own dedicated technical networks, companies like Skype, Snapchat and WhatsApp are internet-based.
  5. Digital community. On a digital community platform, people who want to remain virtually connected for a longer period of time can find each other, hook up and exchange information with one another. Facebook lets one build one’s own network of friends, but also facilitates other groupings, while LinkedIn plays a similar role in the business context.
  6. Digital payment. On a digital payment platform, matching takes place between those owing money and those wanting to be paid. Some of these payment platforms, like Adyen, work ‘behind the scenes’ on behalf of companies, while others like PayPal and Apple Pay are directed at online consumers. Note that an increasing number of community and marketplace platforms, like WeChat and Amazon are extending into payments.

Key Insights

  • New form of intermediation. With the rise of the internet many people thought intermediaries would be cut out (disintermediation), but in practice a whole new category has
    emerged – digital platforms – based on the concept of many-to-many (M2M).
  • The value of matching. The digital platform map clarifies that the value of digital platforms is in their ability to matchmake. They reduce inefficiencies by linking supply and demand.
  • Basis of a business model. If a digital platform creates value, it has the potential to grow into a business, if it can be matched to a suitable revenue model to capture that value.
  • Strength of network effects. All platforms profit from the virtuous cycle of many buyers drawing many suppliers, which in turn draws more buyers, ad infinitum. They create and
    sustain their own ecology, which grows more powerful with increasing size.
  • Platforms branching out. While most companies started in one digital platform category, network effects are driving them to invade other categories and become platforms of everything.

01 Jul

By

Mind the Gap Model

Which challenges do I likely face if I try to implement big changes in my organization?

1 July 2019 | By |

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Key Definitions

Organizations constantly change, in ways intended and unintended. When managers deliberately intend to alter an organization, shifting it from its current state to a future state, we speak of implementing change.
The challenges involved in successfully implementing change depend on how big the intended change is – whether it is a minor adaptation or a major organizational transformation. Generally, the wider the scope (the number of aspects being changed) and the larger the scale (the extent of the change), the more challenges that will be encountered.

Conceptual Model

The model identifies the three main categories of challenges encountered by managers trying to cross the gap between the current state and the intended future state – hence the tonguein-cheek name, Mind the Gap Model. Within each of the three categories, three specific challenges are described that are commonly faced when implementing big changes. The model doesn’t suggest that these challenges always occur, but serves as a checklist to warn managers of potential issues they might come up against.

Key Elements

The nine change challenges, grouped into three sets of three, are:

  1. Change clarity. Is it truly clear-cut to all stakeholders what the change entails? Managers often think it is clear what they say, but that doesn’t mean that recipients are clear in their interpretation of what they hear. Common forms of ambiguity among stakeholders are:
    1. Specificity ambiguity. Often the change itself hasn’t been made tangible enough to act upon. It is unclear what needs to be done, when, how and by whom.
    2. Credibility ambiguity. Changes can also sound too unrealistic to take seriously. It is unclear whether there is sufficient drive and commitment to actually make them happen.
    3. Consistency ambiguity. Making changes can also be inconsistent with people’s other priorities. It can then be unclear which objectives people should focus on first.
  2. Change ability. Is the organization actually capable of realizing the intended changes? Even if the required change is clear, people might not have the potential to successfully
    carry out what needs to be done. Common barriers holding the organization back are:

    1. Switching barriers. Changes can be frustrated by being locked into such things as longterm contracts, legacy systems and fixed investments, making switching very difficult.
    2. Resource barriers. Organizations can also lack the necessary tangible resources, such as money, and/or intangible resources, such as knowledge, skills, relations and mindset.
    3. Learning barriers. Organization can also be lacking in their capability to absorb outside knowledge and adaptively figure things out along the way, making learning very difficult.
  3. Change willingness. Do all stakeholders actually want to realize the intended changes? Do they embrace the changes put forward and commit themselves to implementing them as intended, or are they reluctant, or even unwilling? Common reasons for resistance are:
    1. Political resistance. Going along with the changes might not be in people’s perceived interest. That makes resistance a rational and calculated response to a potential loss.
    2. Cognitive resistance. Going along might be against people’s views on what should be done. They resist because they believe the change doesn’t make sense.
    3. Emotional resistance. Needing to go along might trigger people’s sense of feeling unsafe. They might fear uncertainty, exclusion or unfairness, leading to resistance.

Key Insights

  • Change requires more than a specific plan. While successful change implementation often starts with having a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Timebound) plan, there are eight more challenges that need to be kept in mind.
  • Change faces three types of challenges. To deal with change, managers need to distinguish between “I don’t get it” (lack of clarity), “I can’t do it” (lack of ability) and “I don’t want it” (lack of willingness). Each challenge requires a different response.
  • Challenges are situation-specific. While change clarity, ability and willingness are universal challenges, not all nine issues mentioned in the model are always problematic, depending on the character of the organization and the type of change being implemented.
  • Challenges are difficult to observe. Most change challenges are not easy to objectively identify at the outset, requiring managers to keep their eyes and ears open for signals along the way, as opposed to assuming that an initial outside analysis will give sufficient insight into the challenges that will be encountered.
  • Challenges need to be managed or downsized. Managers need to constantly estimate whether, and how, the intended change can be successfully achieved, or whether the scope/scale of the change needs to be reduced to make the challenges surmountable.