I’ve just finished the demanding but also pleasurable expedition of health and social care experts from Galicia in Spain to the Netherlands. From my current view, sitting in seat 26D of a Embraer jet on its way to my home the trip was a success, perhaps even a great one.
The trip was truly a learning experience, not just in professional terms.
Here are my personal takeouts.
Art is magnificent. Seeing fresh, vibrant, unconventional creativity in hallways and rooms of a hospital changes the atmosphere. What is more, if money intended to buy art goes to the right artists, it’s un unexpected leverage. Here’s why. A true artist is a rare animal, surrounded by artists who are rather pretending. The reason for this is the risk a true artist is willing to take. It takes guts to decide to bet it all on something not useful by definition. Art is not utilitarian. Art is the expression of the magic, the unavoidable part of being human. Or as Marko Zebec Koren would say, without art we’re all dead. To support the gutsiest of humans, to bet on humanity, is a noble act. And if the manager can fight off the inevitable critics who preach utilitarianism, the rewards are culture inducing. In culture where art is respected, creativity flourishes, happiness multiplies, and, perhaps most importantly, is democratically reachable to all.
Open self managed organisations do have a future. But they need a God, or if he isn’t at hand, a master. Yugoslavia had its bout of selfmanagement, but it failed. The cases of Semco, Buurtzorg, monasteries of Atos are all self managed, with rotation of roles, anti hierarchical, trust based. These cases are the future of business. I have a few arguments to support this claim. First and foremost, humans are universal. We’re not born into a job, we mostly get pushed and squeezed into one. Horizontal mobility, changing of roles is discouraged, and yet, at home we all do dishes, we all bank, we all teach, heal, console, provide care, organise. In most jobs in today’s hierarchical organisations we freeze people’s creativity out. Why? Simple, we were brainwashed into the idea that we need a leader. We don’t. Do you have a leader of your family, a leader of your friends? You don’t, you don’t need one at job either. You need trust. And, probably a beacon of trust, a protector of the idea of that trust is what we want more than hierarchy. The brainwashing mentioned is not a modern construct, but is mostly the consequence of the separation of the mind from the body. The same way we believe our thinking happens in the brain and doesn’t have anything to do with your other body parts, the same way our society strictly believes that some are kings and other pawns with a few strawn in between. Specialisation is fine, I don’t claim a surgeon can switch to be a composer and switch to be a stuntman. That’s not needed. What is needed is sense of trust, sharing, superiority isn’t the goal.
Third. Respect everyone. Proper attitude will save you when mistakes appear. They will appear, inevitably. I’ve said before the trip that I want to make our delegation feel that they are the most important people in the world when I take care of them. I tried to fulfil this to my best ability. Same attitude goes for hosts, however there’s less time for them. Anyhow, if they welcome the delegation properly, this enables a quicker and better connection between people.
Fourth. A few points about Holland. Rain is on and off all the time. I need to adjust my shoes accordingly. The country is rich, yet many still believe problems could be solved with more money. Food is in such abundance, that it’s shocking. When we dined at De Walrus in Leeuwarden, the order of soup and salad became a feast of such proportions that I left more than a third of food uneaten, some even untouched. I don’t like to throw away any food, anywhere. The country does seem clean, I don’t remember seeing trash anywhere. Parking is devilishly expensive, 5 hours of parking in The Hague cost us 35€ per van. And vans can go in most parking houses, 190 cm just clears the bar, or it skims it, but inside the garage you’re fine. It annoys me if the lights of the car are not on automatically, I forgot to turn them on three times. Finally, if I manage to pack everything, and check that I really have everything, it can still happen that I forget something. I always forget something. This time it was the business cards.