Individual and group "flow" as the objective of management


Question - How much would all y’all agree/disagree with the following statement:

The pinnacle of managerial success is to provide the challenges and support that induce “Flow” in the individual staff members and the team collectively.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of “flow”, see: It’s different for groups, but there’s a similar quality of things “clicking”. There’s a sense in the group of cohesion and competence and joy.

To reiterate, this is the pinnacle. It’s the high bar set for excellence in management–not often achieved, and often ephemeral when it is achieved.


For me, closer to agree than to disagree.

manager vs leader is a potential sticking point…

What I like is about it is that it focuses on the role (whatever we call it) creating the conditions conducive to flow emerging.

And that the “bar” considers, at least implicitly, the full integral picture.

Individual, Team, Organization.


“Management” seems to have a negative connotation of command-and-control for some. That’s not how I’m thinking of it. Management has responsibility for hiring. It also often has some responsibility for shaping the goals and objectives of the group. Additionally, it has responsibility for shaping the environment in which those goals and objectives get met.

In some organizations, there is no “manager” on whose shoulders all this rests. Fair enough. But, as you say, the function must still be met.

I see the “challenge” of the goals and objectives presented to the group as the adaptive pressure that drives the group toward change. For flow to occur, management must also ensure that the group has what it needs to succeed (people, tools, processes, etc). This doesn’t mean that management imposes (inflicts?) these things from above. The “challenge” and “support” sides of the equation must be finely calibrated in order to induce flow. Listening to feedback from the group is essential for that calibration.


Hmmm. What about other “emerging” organizational hierarchies/structures?

Sociocracy 3.0
Management 3.0
Dare I mention it, Holocracy.

All three have very different inherent beliefs about where the shaping forces come from… as well as what management means…

I love the metaphors:

  • Organism,
  • Operating System
  • City
  • Machine.



Nice summary! Thank you, sir.

I guess that, according to this chart, I’d be in the Management 3.0 camp. Setting “flow” to be the objective of management is an outgrowth of “Management is a Craft to handle Complexity”. This means that management must have some mastery of the concepts in Complexity Science–chief among these, of course, would be emergence.

In my mind, the reason management has a role to play in emergence (and “flow” is an emergent quality of a well-managed group, IMHO) is that emergence doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It arises in response to some form of adaptive pressure. I’m a big fan of autonomy. I think it has all kinds of benefits, ranging from job satisfaction to team efficacy. But it has to be autonomy applied to some purpose, and that purpose has to come from somewhere. It might be possible in some cases for the group to contain within it the ability to consume and comprehend the complexity of the larger organization to which they belong, and the complexity of the external world that the organization serves. But I submit that these cases are rare. In most organizations of any size, it becomes essential for someone(s) to separate the information from the noise and distill this into a set of goals and objectives for the group. Likewise, it’s helpful to have someone with the authority and budget to get the team what it needs. Do you need a coach? OK, let’s get you a coach. Do you need a bullpen? OK, let’s get you a bullpen. Do you need better collaboration tools? OK, let’s go get them.

Looking at Sociocracy 3.0 (thank you for that), the distilling and facilitating functions might be provided by someone with a title other than “manager”, but it still talks about “organizational drivers” and groups being “semi-autonomous” and “delegating accountability for a domain to an individual”. I would be perfectly happy to change the original statement so that it doesn’t contain the word “managerial”. What should it be?

The pinnacle of __________ success is to provide the challenges and support that induce “Flow” in the individual staff members and the team collectively.


a beekeeper’s




I’m looking for a book I read that explains it… stand by



Thanks, Andy. I’ll take a look at it.