‘The complexity in organizations fascinates me enormously’
He grew up on a farm and has been intrigued from an early age by how systems work. Not only technical systems, but also the systems within organizations. “I have been able to design complex machines with wonderful teams in the past. No matter how complex that machine had to be, we could always build it. What fascinates me is the complexity in organizations. To make a difference, a completely different view of people, the world and an organization is required. I think it’s fantastic to get movement in people and teams that are stuck, by carrying out interventions that make the undercurrent in such an organization visible.” A fascinating conversation with Jos Blom, partner of MPM Business Navigators since November 1, 2023.
High-tech and mechanical engineering
“I was always into research at home on the farm. If I saw a radio in the trash, I took it completely apart to find out how it worked. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to go to higher technical school. In my career I have developed from mechatronics engineer to project and program manager. After that, I built up an R&D organization as a manager. In the manufacturing industry, I especially have an affinity with high-tech and mechanical engineering. I look for a challenge in my work at the intersection of people, machines and organizations.”
Complexity in teams
Jos completed part of his education at INSEAD, one of the most prestigious business schools in the world. “[lachend] Yeah, I found that out later too. I registered there because they offered the training module I was looking for. I had discovered that as an engineer I could work well with people. That my interest shifted from designing beautiful, complex technical products to working with complexity in teams and organizations. I delved into the psychology of transformation processes within organizations. What dynamics are at play within teams and organizations? INSEAD offered me the training that combines leadership with psychology in organizations. A course that was tailor-made for me.”
When there is movement
“It’s great to experience what happens to the energy in a team or organization when movement arises. When involvement increases. When valuable results are achieved. That’s what I’m going for. You can summarize my work in three words: connecting, clarifying and renewing. This is not to say that innovation only has positive aspects. Innovation is change. Change always involves a grieving process.”
Because people and processes are stuck? Because you have to pry to get it moving? Because prying hurts?
“Hey, that’s an interesting line of thought. But I won’t share that completely with you. Employees who are stuck are often seen as a problem or a challenge. I see it differently. Employees play a role in the organization. How they do this is strongly influenced by the hidden dynamics in that organization. Less because of their personality. That is why my challenge is to become aware of these hidden dynamics and gain insight into the behavior of an individual or team within that context. The challenge for me as an interim worker is to get people on board, both by looking at what hinders them and – more importantly – by looking at what hinders the team or the organization as a whole.
Participate in change
From an organizational perspective, you want to implement a change quickly when you see that it is necessary. But the employees go through a different process. In order to include people in the change, it is first necessary to know what concerns them, what is holding them back, what may be preventing me from bringing them along. You have to get started with that first. Because the result of an organization is a consequence of the way people behave in the organization and of the hidden dynamics within the organization. If it is positive, it will lead to more involvement and job satisfaction.”
Different place in organization
You enter an organization as an interim employee and have to work with a team that has such a hidden dynamic. How do you understand what that dynamic is?
“As an interim proffesional you always have a different place in the organization than a manager who is on the payroll. The appointment is temporary and the distance to the organization is greater. The organization also has less need to fully integrate you into the culture, into the usual way of working. As an interim manager, I am very aware of what happens to me the moment I enter that organization. What does this organization ask of me? What tendencies do I feel developing within myself? What do I observe among the team members? Things like that give me information about the unconscious agreements in the organization. About the prevailing norms. About the way of working together. Based on that, I get to know those hidden dynamics and I can anticipate them.” We can talk and philosophize endlessly with Jos Blom. But MPM’s new partner is eager to get to work. To contribute his extensive expertise to his first assignment within the MPM business navigators.