Written by Pascal Jouxtel
JCF: In a historically centralized company like SNCF, where everything is written and formalized, releasing initiatives means renouncing to put everything under control. It is scary. In general, such an approach requires trusting. It is already, a difficult change of posture for the manager in ordinary time. At SNCF, where the manager is a « commanding officer », regarding the history of the company, it requires more questioning. The heart of success is trust toward the other. In their technical expertise, in their commitment to the customer and the company… That’s DNA as we say internally. Trust is changing the hierarchical relationship radically.
SOL: What new opportunities were opened?
JCF: I haven’t found them all! Creativity only begins to come. At first we must consolidate the pleasure of working with confidence (not punishing any guilty person). Managers are not yet making the link between this new stance, the well-being of their staff and the quality of production. They are just beginning to understand that letting go is not a weakness but a strength. Indeed, the subject is not only liberating initiatives of agents, but also supporting managers in their new behaviors. I do speak about human relationship, not a tool for management and / or quality use.
AG: Today the « normal » business organization is the pyramidal structure of command & control. Only a leader who has understood the limits of Taylorism – and wrestled his ego – can open spaces of freedom and create an organization operating on trust. That’s where the paradox comes from: a company can only be “made free” by the will of the leader … Hopefully this time is short! « Normality » will then be perceived as freedom, empowerment, pleasure, and thus performance. The need for an atypical leader will probably be more limited.
SOL: Can we speak of a « wave » or a natural tendency, peculiar to our age and our corporate cultures?
AG: Infinite growth in a finite world makes no sense and we all know it. According to Marc Halévy, we are at the crossroads. Awareness among people is real and I am fortunate enough to be faced every day with this awakening, in large or small business, schools, administrations … At the same time, we know that the old vision is deeply rooted in our culture. Yes, the fight will be hard! But I am a believer… The new generation will not accept this legacy. The Taylorian parenthesis will soon be over.