Digitally Enabled Harmony: The Organizational Model For The Post-Management World.

There is a deepening appreciation of the business firm as a complex evolving system (CES). The behavior of such systems can be understood through the lens of universal laws that have been discovered over the past 75 years or so of systems science studies. The findings of these studies point in a very different direction for the optimization of performance of firms than the traditional processes and methods of direction and control that fall under the heading of contemporary business management.

The mental model to replace management direction and control is harmonization – the unburdened harmony both of the firm interacting with its external environment (markets, customers, suppliers) and harmony within the firm between producer teams. The harmonizing catalyst is value – creating value for customers, and value and meaning in work for employees. Value acts as a coalescing unity (it’s what brings the firm and its markets into alignment) and provides a congruent shared meaning (everyone in the firm is devoted to value creation for others, and customers, partners and suppliers are collaborators in this purpose).

In the language of systems, value is the governing constraint. Constraints are a favorable influence on systems, shaping their development in the direction of collaboration, co-ordination and coherence. Constraints can be norms or cultural guidelines, or feedback loops, or conceptual frameworks, or even standards or processes, that lower barriers to value creation. Constraints bring about effects by channeling and facilitating value flow. They are the conceptual opposite of management structures and command and control philosophies: they are freeing rather than restricting.

The right governing constraints result in harmony, the productive emergence of (1) collective shared meaning (cognitive and emotional harmony) and (2) collaborative unity (behavioral harmony). This harmony unites both the internal and external environment: customers, suppliers and partners are as aligned as are internal functions.

The organizational unit for the harmony model is the team. Teams are deployed to develop solutions to problems that an individual can’t achieve. The members have multiple, complementary skills and a common task or goal. They collaborate to discover how best to work together for the common goal. They can exist within an assemblage of teams – teams of teams- embedded within the larger context of a firm or a corporation, and they are self-organizing in that context. The firm provides the governing constraint of shared intent and shared norms, while the teams operate in a bottom-up mode to affect the whole firm and improve system performance. 

Harmonized teams

Teams develop a capacity to act as a network of people, things and narrative (shared meaning). They are characterized by fluidity of interaction and exchange. Individuals on a team are interdependent, and multiple teams can be interdependent with each other in the team of teams. Interdependency can cross boundaries (e.g. the marketing team might embrace both finance and operations) and between levels (e.g. combining planning and execution) because it is the quality of interactions that matter, not the structural arrangement of resources. 

The Data Layer

The critical resource for teams to achieve high quality interaction is data from the environment. When information is rich and free-flowing, the quality of team interactions is increased; knowledge gaps are rapidly closed and feedback loops enable error correction and adaptation. In systems theory, higher team performance resulting from the flow of data is termed The Law Of Increasing Functional Information (LIFI). 

In the context of firms needing to achieve competitively superior delivery of value to customers, they are called upon to continually improve their value function. To do so, they gather and process functional information – the data that tells them how to create value, how well they are creating value at present, and how to improve value delivery in the future. The more functional information they can collect and flow through the company, and the better they can process it, the higher their value creation performance. There is a selection process at work: the market selects those firms and value propositions that are most functional – most valuable – for them. 

Digitally enabled harmonization

A new organizational model has emerged to make harmony the catalyst for firm-level performance: digital enablement. It has the following components:

  • A direct connection to the external environment – to customers, partners, suppliers. This is the key transformational influence: the direct connection to customers and markets is the factor that has unleashed new business models such as those of amazon, AirBnB, Netflix and many of the exponential growth businesses of today.
  • A data layer to collect and organize the inflow, applying A.I. and machine learning to identify patterns and insights, before human factors are applied. By routing data through the data layer and associated analytical software and models, insights can emerge spontaneously before the application of human judgment. 
  • An unstructured assemblage of functions that utilize the insights from the data layer to elevate value creation in their own domain: operations, commerce, service delivery, customer relationships and engagement, marketing and brand building. The functions develop a collective intelligence that increases the value performance of every project, team and individual.

The core components of digitally enabled harmonization are:

  • Philosophy: all good businesses start from sound philosophy. Digital harmonization is founded on a philosophy of value, nurtured by customer information, and enabled by the direct connection from customer to firm, without intervening barriers or distorting judgment.
  • Information flow: in information theory, more data, processed more quickly and analytically, can drive value, so long as noise and equivocation are eliminated or reduced. The direct digital connection to the market supplies the flow and the A.I. and M/L processing provide the clarity of insights. Speed of response is important but not primary: clarity is the key.
  • Self-organization: teams self-organize by identifying entrepreneurial goals for pursuing new customer value, combining knowledge, skills, resources and tools. The science of self-managed teams in the pursuit of customer value goals has become well-developed in agile software development, and the principles are fully transferable across all functions and projects. No central control is required, and improved results stem from the bottom up, rather than from top-down strategies or planning. The higher-level intent of the firm is realized through lower-level initiatives.
  • Value: the primary governing constraint is value, the experience of greater well-being. This is what customers seek, so value creation by the firm generates the positive feedback loop – through the data layer – of revenue and profit as well as customer satisfaction and loyalty. It’s also what employees, associates and partners seek: meaningful work, creating value for customers. 
  • Generative culture: the critical human-in-the-loop component is active in functions at the team level, where creativity and imagination harnessed to insights generate new initiatives and implementations for testing and expanding in the marketplace. Performance-oriented teams are motivated and united by shared meaning and enjoy the collaborative participation in the pursuit of new customer value, and the collective learning via the active feedback loop. Interoperability across teams and across functions further strengthens the generative collaboration. 


Alicia Juarrero: Context Changes Everything: How Constraints Create Coherence; MIT Press, 2023.

Johan Ivari, Annette Nolan: Team Up For Success: Harnessing Participatory Sense Making; Swedish Defence University, 2024.

Cooperative Consulting: Digital Enablement: Helping growth-minded clients accelerate into the Automated Economy, 2024

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #39: Dr. Elias Aboujaoude: A Leader’s Destiny

Leadership is not what the business schools and coaching industry tell you it is.

A Leader’s Destiny” challenges conventional notions of leadership, offering a thought-provoking exploration into the complex interplay of psychology, culture, and society. Written by Elias Aboujaoude, the book delves deep into the modern leadership landscape, dissecting prevalent trends and highlighting the need for a paradigm shift in how we perceive and cultivate leaders.

It highlights how leadership has been oversimplified into formulaic steps and mnemonic devices, creating an illusion of quick mastery. This reductionist approach fails to capture the complexity of human behavior and context, lacking empirical support. Instead, Dr Aboujaoude proposes a shift towards viewing leadership as a state of mind, emphasizing psychology over pseudoscience and recognizing individual uniqueness. This reframing calls for a departure from the business school model of leadership, advocating for a more personalized and nuanced understanding rooted in psychology and character.

Dr. Aboujaoude’s  Value Creators podcast discussion with Hunter Hastings delves into the often-overlooked role of followership, critiquing the prevalent focus on grooming leaders at the expense of valuing followers. It emphasizes the importance of acknowledging followers as essential components of effective leadership and calls for a more balanced perspective that appreciates their contribution. Additionally, the conversation touches upon the significance of empathy and humility in leadership, advocating for emotionally intelligent and empathic leaders who understand the role of luck and serendipity in their success. Overall, the discourse prompts a critical reflection on current leadership culture, urging a reevaluation of conventional wisdom and a renewed focus on psychology, individuality, and genuine concern for both leaders and followers alike.


Connect with Hunter Hastings on LinkedIn

Connect with Dr. Elias Aboujaoude on LinkedIn

To Read, Sample, and Buy the Book on Amazon: A Leader’s Destiny: Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference

Show Notes:

0:00 | Intro
0:18 | Leadership Industrial Complex.
2:56 | Supply Demand Analysis: How Did Leadership Manufacturing Start
4:44 | Crisis: Leadership Demand Mismatch
8:59 | Attention Economy: Impact on Leadership
11:52 | Redefining Leadership: Psychology Perspective
17:34 | Leadership: Moving Beyond Formulaic Approaches
20:12 | Leadership Challenges: Left Hemisphere Dominance
22:45 | Individual Uniqueness vs. Formulaic Approach
24:46 | Charisma
30:05 | Fostering Effective Followership
32:18 | Distributed Leadership
34:42 | Leadership-Free Concept: Network Structure
35:40 | Culture 
40:38 | Cultural Reflection: Emphasizing Empathy
43:34 | Luck and Serendipity
46:34 | Whether Elias is Optimistic OR Not?
49:00 | Wrap-Up: A Leader’s Destiny Book

Knowledge Capsule

Leadership Industrial Complex

  • Elias Aboujaoude explains that society’s obsession with leadership establishes an exaggerated demand that the leadership industry supplies.
  • Society sends toddlers to “leadership academies” and prefers leadership titles.
  • Leadership is marketed as a science, making it seem universally accessible. This creates an inferiority complex in individuals who feel inadequate without leadership roles.

Evolution and Crisis of Leadership

  • Humans naturally seek leaders due to evolutionary tribal needs.
  • Society today resists hierarchical structures, creating a conflict with our innate desire for leadership. This leads to seeking leaders in inappropriate places.
  • Despite extensive leadership education and resources, inspiring leaders are scarce.
  • Leadership failure persists in academia, corporate culture, and politics. The crisis stems from minimizing the importance of psychology and character in leadership.
  • The conveyor belt approach to leadership allows unsuitable individuals to rise, often favoring narcissists and sociopaths.

Psychological Foundations of Leadership

  • Modern leadership culture often ignores psychological aspects.
  • Executive coaches, lacking formal psychological training, exacerbate this issue.
  • Studies show personality traits remain stable over decades, challenging the notion that leadership qualities can be quickly developed through training.
  • Genuine personality change is a long-term process, contradicting the idea that brief coaching sessions can effectively transform individuals into leaders.

Formulaic Approach in the Coaching Industry:

  • Dr. Aboujaoude highlights that the coaching industry often promotes a formulaic approach with specific steps like the “four C’s” and “9 proven steps”.
  • Quantitative vs. Qualitative: He points out the industry’s tendency to favor quantitative methods over qualitative, more personalized approaches.
  • He emphasizes the difference between these formulaic methods and the non-formulaic nature of psychological understanding.

Use of Mnemonics in Leadership Teaching:

  • Dr. Aboujaoude discusses how mnemonics are widely used in leadership teaching as part of the “Leadership Express” approach.
  • Simplistic Tools: These tools are sold as easy-to-remember hacks and tips that supposedly guarantee successful outcomes.
  • Dr. Aboujaoude criticizes the oversimplification and lack of substantial data supporting the effectiveness of these mnemonics.

Leadership as a Pseudo-Science:

  • The industry promotes leadership studies as a STEM field to give it credibility and reduce criticism.
  • Commercialization of Leadership: Leadership is marketed as an easily attainable science, which supports the business of leadership training.
  • There is no substantial data to back the claims that these leadership methods are universally effective.

Hierarchical vs. Subjective Approaches in Leadership

  • Hunter mentions Ian McGilchrist’s concept of left hemisphere dominance, emphasizing lists, plans, and strategies over human values.
  • Born Leaders vs. Circumstantial Leaders: Hunter notes that leadership can be contextual, depending on circumstances rather than just inherent traits.

Individual Uniqueness in Leadership:

  • Leadership should be about individual uniqueness rather than fitting into predefined traits.
  • The current trend of branding leaders with checklists of traits undermines true individuality.

Mystique and Charisma in Leadership:

  • The value of natural leaders is somewhat inscrutable, allowing followers to project their aspirations onto them.
  • The trend of oversharing on social media diminishes the mystique and reduces the effectiveness of leadership.

Concept of Charisma:

  • Historically, charisma is seen as a gift, not something that can be taught.
  • Elias Aboujaoude criticizes the idea of teaching charisma through courses, equating it to playing god.
  • True charisma is unique and cannot be reduced to steps or tips.

Role of Followers in Leadership:

  • The current leadership culture often ignores followers or sees them only as potential leaders.
  • Dr. Aboujaoude emphasizes the importance of appreciating followers for who they are and their role in supporting leaders.
  • The push to turn everyone into leaders can give followers an inferiority complex.

Distributed Leadership:

  • Hunter discusses the concept of distributed or democratic leadership, where leadership roles are shared among team members.
  • Elias notes that while democratic leadership can enhance morale, it can also be inefficient in times of crisis.
  • He questions whether true leadership can exist without some degree of hierarchy.

Cultural Challenges to Leadership:

  • There’s an increasing aversion to hierarchical structures, making traditional leadership roles more challenging.
  • The lack of privacy in the digital age compromises leaders’ ability to maintain a mystique and manage perceptions.
  • Persistent biases, especially against women, limit the pool of potential leaders and affect leadership culture.

Empathy in Leadership:

  • Emotional Intelligence: Empathy, as part of emotional intelligence, is a crucial trait for effective leadership.
  • Current Leadership Traits: The focus on traits can result in narcissism and sociopathy; there’s a need to shift towards nurturing empathetic leaders.
  • Cultural Shift Needed: A cultural shift towards valuing empathy and emotional intelligence in leaders is necessary.

Role of Luck and Serendipity

  • Great leaders often benefit from being in the right place at the right time, a factor not commonly acknowledged.
  • Many scientific discoveries are serendipitous, suggesting that leadership success can also involve elements of luck.
  • Recognizing the role of luck can bring humility and a more realistic approach to leadership development.

Optimism for the Future:

  • Dr. Aboujaoude is cautiously optimistic, believing that a deep cultural reflection can address the current leadership crisis.
  • Drawing parallels from changes in technology and psychology, he sees potential for a similar shift in leadership culture.
  • Despite the optimism, significant challenges remain in transforming the leadership industry.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #38: Professor Mark Packard On the Future Of Business Education

Entrepreneurship can be learned via philosophy and principles: cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, fostering adaptability, and problem-solving skills, and embracing dynamic market processes.

Mark Packard, Professor Of Business And Entrepreneurship at Florida Atlantic University and Director of the Madden Center for Value Creation, contrasts entrepreneurial business education with traditional business paradigms. An entrepreneurial curriculum focuses on dynamic market processes and the pivotal role of the entrepreneur in the capitalist market system. Mark proposes experiential learning, where students engage with real-world challenges, fostering adaptability and problem-solving abilities crucial in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.

Mark emphasizes the broader impact of entrepreneurial thinking, spanning industries such as healthcare, where innovative models like direct primary care challenge established norms. By integrating philosophical insights and subjectivism, entrepreneurial education can cultivate a mindset of continuous learning and value creation. Mark underscores the importance of introspection and experimentation in breaking free from conventional thinking patterns. Ultimately, the conversation highlights the transformative potential of entrepreneurial education in fostering innovation, adaptability, and societal change across all sectors.


Connect with Hunter Hastings on LinkedIn: 

Connect with Mark Packard on LinkedIn: 

Check out The Value Creators Online Course by clicking here.

FREE PDF: 26 Ways To Think Better about Business.

Mark Packard: Entrepreneurial Valuation: An Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Into the Mind of Customers

Knowledge Capsule

Current Challenges in Business Education:

  • Traditional business education relies on methods and processes from the industrial era, which may not align with the needs of the digital age.
  • Educational institutions exhibit reluctance to adopt new approaches due to institutional inertia and established norms.
  • There are inefficiencies in both teaching methods and organizational structures within educational institutions, leading to suboptimal outcomes.
  • Business education often fails to foster entrepreneurial mindsets and skills, which are increasingly essential in today’s business landscape.

Importance of Subjectivism in Business:

  • Subjectivism is a strange-sounding concept for business – but understanding it is essential for creating value, which is the purpose of all business.
  • Subjectivism highlights the significance of individual intentions, values, and perceptions in shaping economic behavior.
  • Emphasizing subjectivism encourages businesses to prioritize understanding customers and meeting their diverse needs and preferences as individuals, in both B2B and B2C..
  • Subjectivist thinking challenges the traditional focus on processes and methods in management, enabling a more creative, more adaptive, more innovative, and therefore more customer-oriented approach.

Entrepreneurship as the core strategy for all businesses::

  • Entrepreneurship involves creating innovative value propositions that address emerging customer needs or desires.
  • Entrepreneurial organizations are better positioned to adapt to market changes and to bring innovative new solutions to market quickly, leading to sustained competitive advantage.
  • Businesses that embrace entrepreneurship as their core strategy are more likely to achieve long-term success and resilience in dynamic market environments.

Focus on Customer Experience:

  • Prioritizing the customer experience involves designing products, services, and interactions around customer preferences and desires.
  • Companies like Amazon and Apple exemplify the benefits of focusing on delivering exceptional value experiences, leading to customer loyalty and market dominance.
  • Customer-centric businesses continuously seek feedback and iterate on their offerings to ensure they remain aligned with evolving customer expectations.

Ambidextrous Organizations:

  • Ambidextrous organizations effectively balance the need for innovation (entrepreneurship) with operational efficiency (management).
  • Achieving ambidexterity often requires structuring teams or departments dedicated to innovation alongside those focused on day-to-day operations.
  • In today’s fast-paced business environment, ambidexterity is critical for organizations to navigate uncertainty and drive sustainable growth.

Influence of Austrian Economics:

  • The only real economics for business: traditional economics thinks top-down in aggregates like GDP, the output of an economic machine that can be manipulated and managed. The brand of economics for business is bottom up, thinking about value for individual customers and the entrepreneurial processes to deliver value.
  • Subjective Value: Austrian economics emphasizes the subjective nature of value, highlighting that value is determined by individual preferences rather than objective measures.
  • Dynamic Market Processes: Austrian economics offers a more realistic understanding of market dynamics, emphasizing the role of entrepreneurship and spontaneous order in economic outcomes.
  • Implications for Business: Businesses informed by Austrian economics are more attuned to customer preferences, market uncertainties, and the importance of innovation in driving economic growth.

Alternative Curriculum Proposal:

  • The proposed curriculum seeks to integrate entrepreneurial principles, customer-centricity, and complex thinking into business education.
  • The program may include courses on entrepreneurial mindset development, customer experience design, complexity theory, and innovation management.
  • Students would engage in real-world projects and experiential learning opportunities to apply theoretical concepts in entrepreneurial contexts, fostering a holistic understanding of business dynamics.

Importance of Entrepreneurship-Centered Education:

  • Emphasis on understanding the dynamic nature of the economy, influenced by Austrian economics principles.
  • Highlights the pivotal role of the entrepreneur in navigating market complexities and driving innovation.
  • Prioritizes teaching how ideas are generated, developed, and translated into innovative products or services.

Curriculum Design:

  • Entrepreneurial Mindset Development: Focuses on cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, which includes creativity, adaptability, and problem-solving skills.
  • Practical Skills: Includes essential operational knowledge such as accounting, finance, and organizational structure, but with a secondary emphasis.
  • Real-World Learning: Incorporates experiential learning opportunities where students tackle real challenges faced by partner businesses, fostering practical application of entrepreneurial principles.

Learning Experience Approach:

  • Integrates a practicum or capstone experience where students work on real challenges brought by partner businesses, resembling an internship or consultancy.
  • Contrasts with traditional business school capstones, which often rely on simulation games and lack real-world applicability.
  • Provides students with opportunities to apply entrepreneurial thinking to real-world business problems, enhancing their problem-solving abilities.

AI’s can’t be entrepreneurs::

  • Professor Packard acknowledges AI’s inability to think entrepreneurially due to its reliance on historical data and lack of creativity.
  • Emphasizes the unique ability of humans to engage in counterfactual thinking and true entrepreneurial creativity.
  • Recognizes AI’s potential as a tool for prompting ideas but underscores the irreplaceable role of human creativity in entrepreneurship.

Impact on Hiring and Company Culture:

  • Highlights the difficulty companies face in identifying candidates with an entrepreneurial mindset and problem-solving skills.
  • Emphasizes the need for employees who can adapt to changing environments and proactively solve problems.
  • Discusses the potential for new hires with entrepreneurial mindsets to influence and improve company cultures, fostering adaptability and innovation.

Entrepreneurial Mindset Beyond Business School:

  • Recognizes the value of philosophical thinking in fostering open-mindedness and innovative insights.
  • Encourages individuals from diverse backgrounds to embrace entrepreneurship, emphasizing that anyone can develop entrepreneurial skills with the right mindset and learning.

Potential Impact Beyond Business Education:

  • Discusses the potential for entrepreneurial thinking to revolutionize industries beyond business, such as healthcare, through initiatives like direct primary care.
  • Highlights the relevance of subjectivist thinking and value creation principles in various fields, enabling individuals to identify innovative solutions to complex problems.
  • Foresees entrepreneurship as a driving force for positive change in all sectors,and at all scales and business stages, fueled by individuals equipped with entrepreneurial mindsets and skills.

Cultivating Entrepreneurial Thinking:

  • Encourages introspection to challenge existing assumptions and explore alternative approaches to problem-solving.
  • Advocates for learning from diverse perspectives and experiences to broaden one’s understanding and stimulate entrepreneurial thinking.
  • Stresses the importance of ongoing learning and experimentation in fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and adapting to evolving challenges and opportunities.