Search in Ecosia. So another tree planted just for that….

I’m not even sure I should write a blog post being only somewhat through a COVID-19 recovery. After 2.5 years of avoiding infection, I tested positive on Friday morning. And sadly, I infected at least 2 other people I know of and came into contact with.

But something’s coming back to the foggy brain I had for a few days (and suffering delirious thoughts, a fever like I’ve never had before, bodily and headaches and the generally known slump in energy). But through natural and synthesised interventions, which I feel safer because of, I’m on the road to recovery.

So here goes.

Latitude in this post is the 3rd definition from the Oxford Languages screenshot above.

Scope and freedom for action or thought.

I’ll begin with something I consider low latitude: Management.

In a recent post about managers being under-equipped to lead their people, and perhaps being the cause of the (ridiculous) phenomena of quiet quitting I rather glibly posted that it wasn’t because of a lack of development in people who are line managers or team leaders — we’ve seen billions in financial and hours terms thrown at this — but that the whole concept of management is a fallacy for 21st-century work and we should adopt self-management.

There was a post on the difference between leadership and management — which is perhaps even more wasteful of thought in solving this problem than even more training — and there was gentle indignation that I was being typically radical and the world wasn’t ready for that yet. And besides, managers — when worked well by individuals — do provide a lot of mentoring, comfort, stability, decision making and so on. Especially useful is managing processes and managing compliance related things that need a safe, steady and sure hand.

And yes, I’ve been one. A manager. The system plays you into it. Often with no training. And yes often clumsy but I found a way to get something good going on.

Because unbeknownst to me, I created more latitude for people than they were used to. And they responded supremely well.

Mental marker made. But some courses tried to teach it out of me with models and theories to the contrary. So I unlearned some stuff. Little did I know this was the seed that planted the desiring thoughts to seek an alternative to management.

So let’s move into a thing with a little more latitude: Leadership.

Not the hero leader persona. No, the appreciation of the space and need for leadership. Vision. Clarity. Togetherness. Belief. Coaching. Mentoring. Support. Challenge. Investigation Decisiveness. Not controlling people, enabling them and the system they work in to harmonise and be in flow.

Leadership — so over-written, overdone, under-applied, badly played — can sometimes be worse than managers. Toxicity, ego, we’ve seen it in so many awful awful people. It’s no wonder there’s a longing sometimes for leaderless environments — they can spoil so much. I’ve researched anarchic systems. They do work and they can be more powerful and sustainable.

Leadership though, I’ve equally seen done so so well. Where the sheer commitment, fortitude, love and emotive connection to something worthwhile shows the human spirit at its best. And in those kinds of leaders, I saw not control, I experienced no grip of steel masquerading as a steady hand for the followers. I saw a lot of latitude for people to be themselves, find themselves and do their best things in life and work.

And then something that has all the latitude in the world we could ever even imagine. Us and in particular our Agency. Self-direction, autonomy if you will.

Self-determination theory is now the go-to definition of how we are optimised. Most fulfilled. Motivated. Successful.

  • The need for growth drives us.

And then more specifically they are played out in repeat fashion through

  • Autonomy/self-direction and independence, choice and control over one’s self

No title to contend with. No role profile to yoke and choke you. Just you.

You know, the stuff like the person who saw someone had collapsed at the wheel of a still moving car and managed to bring it to a stop and saved the driver.

Or the person who jumped in the lake and saved the struggling animal.

I know these are acts in the moment but those feats where we have autonomy (no one told us to do those things); relatedness (to others in distress) and mastery (we felt capable enough to intervene and help).

So latitude is there in abundance.

Sure there are constraints perhaps of the physical sort (no boat to take out to the lake to help the animal) and mental sort (doubting ones ability perhaps or oversensing danger and choosing to not intervene). But essentially all the latitude in the world is there and we act, and do and help and achieve.

In the systems of work, we often have perceived or real latitude impositions.

Ever had the problem as trivial as not knowing how to file for expenses and realising there’s no latitude at all and you have to complete triplicate forms, find codes, scan receipts etc. etc.

OK some processes need tightness and therefore zero latitude.

Now how about you had an idea to innovate on that process?

A company suggestion scheme or improvements inbox.

Shoot me now.

Companies largely operate with hair’s width latitude on innovation. DESPITE saying they want it and it’ll help and having a £20 Amazon voucher etc.

There is often so little latitude that it is more like some oppressed proletariat than an open creative culture.

And in those companies are lots of leaders and even more managers. You can see where I’m going here.

IF you dispense with layers of managers, and are clear on what leadership is all about, you can considerably enhance your Latitude Quotient (LQ) and thrive on a collective bunch of committed individuals who know they have a glorious amount of almost infinite latitude to play with.

And then what?

  • Watch the problems that need solving most, get solved without unnecessary and stifling bureaucracy.

Because more latitude opens up more chances to get what your organisation is here to do more impactfully, efficiently, creativity and importantly, fulfillingly by the very same people who normally have zero to 5% latitude and now have over 90% latitude.

Change management becomes not some toxic fearful declaration of doom presented as a survival technique, it disperses into a highly-entropic state of micro adjustments adapting and surging ahead to effectiveness personified.

Enagement becomes something you don’t even need to talk about because it’s obvious that BIG latitude increases BIG learning, adaptation, ownership, clarity, unity and creativity.

Inclusion thrives surely when there’s more latitude? Being yourself and marked positively by your endeavours, bravery, difference.

There’s a downside surely?

  • Won’t chaos reign?

Well no.

Because when people recognise that complexity and chaos are in town anyway, but they’re held in board discussions, edicts, management controls and falsehoods of being on top of the game, there’s a realisation that’s not good enough. As such controls are masqueraded as “taming the beast” but they don’t really cut it and we make do, fudge and fail even if we make a lot of money because we bought out all our competitors.

And conformity and standardisation were trialled in communism and we know how that went.

Conformity and standardisation are difficult things for human beings, no matter what we might think they’re there to do.

We can channel ourselves to repeat amazing feats when we need to but what we do is we choose to conform because we know it’s optimal; and that we’ve mastered our skill so we can be confident in our competence to do it right/well/best and we’re related to the people or the impacts on people of not getting it right or of doing it right.

So we comply with conformity when we choose to and know it’s right. We allow the latitude to squeeze down to a low state of entropy because we believe in it and willingly conform.

Conformity and standardisation are only respected by systems and mechanical laws and we merely play our part as living beings as the creative — or dangerous — variable in the situation.

So back to large latitude and why I think we need more of it in the world of work.

Example from the live annals of People and Transformational HR Ltd.time.

We are about to move into our 2023 Strategic Aspiration — agreed by the team — for self-set rewards (we don’t like old school words like salaries and besides, that’s only the money side).

In working with our inbound Chief Incubation Officer Catalina, we are looking to create as much latitude as we can in the system we’re going to introduce in 2023 that people can:

  • know how much they’re worth (not on market rates or secret-sauce calucations but on impact and value creation)

And all of this will be using leadership (to craft understanding of why and how we’re going to do this); no management except when there’s a process to implement; and loads of latitude to make it whatever it should be for us individually and collectively.

Catalina’s also going to lead on incubating our Spin-Out Ventures.

PTHR’s strategy for growth isn’t to be a bigger firm in consultancy, but to be a diversified enterprise. Our team won’t grow to become VP of this and that, we’ll create spin-outs to lead. And bring our self-management principles, processes and nose for a product to build enterprises within an enterprise.

A Mothership and Satellites.

We’ve got 4 already underway in concept (and one of those launches in the Autumn — our HR Careers Accelerator).

We’ll have more. We’ll have a group of CEOs and that’s not to make it more grandiose that it sounds.

People will have:

Autonomy — to build their business venture how they want it to be

Mastery — they’ll use all they've learned at — and before — PTHR to craft it

Relatedness — there will be links to the overall mission of Better Business for a Better World and to other people in PTHR, alongside PTHR and new to PTHR.

I drew it like this:

It’s a bit codified and I’ll keep it that way for intrigue. BUT will reveal all at the PTHR 10 Year Celebration in October for close friends and compadres.

What it occurred to me in my semi-delirious state mid-COVID was that it’s all going to be about latitude. We will have so much of it, it’ll be the ultimate “space” for experiments, for handling chaotic turns-of-events, for dealing with a complex set of business issues and it’ll be clear enough to be replicable and sustainable and mostly, our growth strategy.

Not a single function enterprise. What not specialising in say, self-management? No.

Not a larger form of productised (and perhaps sanitised) hopeful repeat success. What no USP or signature product line? No.

Not a replicant model and thereby just borrowing others models. What no Alphabet/Spotify/Tech Titan homage? No

It’ll be our Latitude-pro model of whatever emerges. It’ll be anti-fragile but beyond the cliche. It’ll be a globally accessible, replicable but unique version of itself not a franchised pyramid.

It will thrive as a renewable open space, and not powered solely by containment.

It will be orderly disorder. It’ll be comforting weirdness. It’ll be adaptable stability. It’ll be loosely tight. It’ll be enigmatically understandable.

It’ll be a model built on latitude. It’ll be our way to create a future that is better because of it.

It’ll be high on LQ (Latitude Quotient).

So I guess my question to close is, how much latitude do you need -v- have? Because my sense is it’s not data is the new oil in business, it’s latitude is the new business renewable and infinite power source.



CEO PTHR |2x TEDx speaker | Author: Transformational HR + The Energized Workplace | HR Most Influential Thinker 2017–2021 | Soulboy + Northampton Town fan

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Perry Timms

CEO PTHR |2x TEDx speaker | Author: Transformational HR + The Energized Workplace | HR Most Influential Thinker 2017–2021 | Soulboy + Northampton Town fan