The new episode in the ArtsManaged video series explores the PAEI Framework by Ichak Adizes, which defines four styles of management, or “concern structures,” that might be dominant in you or in members of your team.
The styles – Producing, Administrating, Entrepreneuring, and Integrating – each contribute essential impulses and actions to a thriving enterprise. But, Adizes suggests, each of us will generally have only one dominant style, with perhaps a secondary style we’ve learned over time. This is because the four styles are in tension with each other, and often pull individuals or teams in different directions.
The goal isn’t to become a quadruple threat. Rather, the goal is to acknowledge the particularly energy you bring to the work, and make room for other energies that can check and balance the collective effort.
What if I told you there were four types of managers and that you were probably dominantly one of them?
Hi, I’m Andrew Taylor. I’m on the faculty of Arts Management at American University in Washington, DC.
And this is ArtsManaged, a series of resources about Arts Management: what it is, how it works, how you can get better at it.
In this video, we’re exploring the management framework of management consultant and scholar Ichak Adizes. He also calls it a “concern structure” because he tries to describe four dominant concern structures that each kind of manager might bring to their work.
And the purpose here is not to suggest there’s just four kinds of people in the world or the working world. The purpose is to suggest that each of us brings a dominant concern to the work; a dominant way of paying attention; and a dominant understanding of what it means to be productive in the workplace.
Each of these four approaches is essential to a successful and thriving enterprise. But each of them also lives in tension to the three others. So it’s quite unusual, in fact probably impossible, for one person to be fully dominant in all four structures. More likely, according to Adizes, you have one dominant structure, and then you have a second you might have learned to be capable in over time.
So let’s talk about each of them. And you can listen to see which sounds most resonant to you and the energy you bring to your work.
Producing has a primary focus on getting things done. It’s about immediate and tangible action. It’s about checking off the things on your list and adding more things to that list to get done next. The producing energy isn’t particularly comfortable with discussion or reflection or abstraction. The goal is to move and to move forward. And to get things into the world.
Administrating has a focus not on doing things, but on doing things right.
Administrating energy tends to be more quiet and cautious. It is uncomfortable in spaces that are unstructured or improvisational or spontaneous. The administrating energy is really about doing things efficiently, rather than doing things quickly.
The Entrepreneuring energy is about looking into the distant future, imagining what might be next and how the world is changing, and how the work will change as well. Entrepreneuring doesn’t tend to be interested in today’s tasks, but rather tomorrow’s possibilities. The Entrepeneuring energy tends to be charismatic and talkative. It draws people to it because it talks about a future that’s exciting and new.
And finally, Integrating is a focus primarily on people, on the team, the community, on listening to motivations and emotions and energies, on what pulls people together and makes them feel like they’re part of a team.
So that gives us four primary concern structures: P, A, E, and I.
Producing, Administrating, Entrepreneuring, and Integrating. According to Adizes’ extreme shorthand, “P’s do, A’s think, I’s listen, E’s talk.”
There’s lots to learn and explore about these four ways of being and doing as a manager. And maybe one of them is already speaking to you as a primary concern for you. If not, it might be worth thinking: Where do you go when you’re under stress? Where does your attention and energy go when things are going sideways?
Do you double down and get the work done that’s in front of you? Are you a producing energy?
Do you pause and think about what’s the better system to manage this process? Rather than getting it done now, let’s get it done right? Making you an administrating energy?
Do you focus on a distant future and say, Well, maybe what is in front of me now is really not the useful thing. Maybe there’s something bold and new and different I should be thinking about?
Or is your impulse to check in with others and your team and see how they’re doing and what they’re doing and how they’re finding focus in their own energy in this moment?
Another way to explore your own dominant energy is to think about the things in the workplace that really drive you nuts. What are the responses or approaches or people even that lead you to get really frustrated and want to walk out of the room? Often, that’s going to be an energy that is contrary to your dominant focus. So it’s difficult for you to understand, and it actually stands in the way of you doing the work the way you want to do it.
The tensions at work in this framework, according to Adizes, are on one hand, effectiveness and efficiency, and on the other hand, short term and long term.
Adizes defines effectiveness as “obtaining results that somebody needs.” And he defines efficiency as “conducting activities with minimal waste.”
So you can imagine that both Producing and Entrepreneuring focus on effectiveness, on doing the right things, while Administrating and Integrating focus on efficiency: doing things right.
On the other dimension, you can imagine a short-term and a long-term focus, as well, that would be in tension with each other. For the short term, Producing and Administrating both focus on short term outcomes: either doing the right things or doing things right. However, in the long term, you really need to focus on the distance and how that distance might be achieved over time. Here, the Entrepreneuring energy and the Integrating energy are really important. Entrepreneurs look to the distant future and imagine what might be true next. Integrators tend to think about the community and the people around them and how they might be more coherent, cohesive, and connected in the ways they work together.
And these also suggest that each of these energies and, in fact, different combinations of these energies, are essential over the changing lifecycle of any organization or endeavor. And we’ll talk about lifecycles in another video.
And a final way of exploring these four concern structures or management styles is to think about the extremes. And Adizes describes four cartoonish, unrealistic extremes that really bring the message home. See if any of these resonate with you and your own work, or the people in your organization that drive you nuts.
First, the extreme of the Producing energy is the Lone Wolf. This is an individual that moves forward despite others, despite process, despite the visions of the future. They just keep working, and they take all the work and keep it for themselves.
The extreme of the Administrating energy is the Bureaucrat, the person who stops everything all the time to make sure everyone is following process and procedure and protocol.
The extreme of the Entrepreneuring energy is the Arsonist. They basically set everything on fire all the time, because the current and present need is uninteresting to them. And what matters is bursting that apart and moving to what’s next.
And finally, the extreme of the Integrating energy is what Adizes called the Super Follower. This is somebody who will move in any in every direction, depending on which way the wind blows, which way the group’s moving, which way that they need to move to fit in.
So the point of this framework is not to suggest you should excel in every one of the four concern structures. The point is, in fact, to say you can’t.
You’re going to have a dominant energy that you go to when you’re stressed, that actually moves you forward and contributes to the work of the organization. And you may have a secondary area that’s not quite as strong, but that you’ve learned over time. But you won’t have three and you won’t have four.
And your purpose therefore is to find and join and find ways of working with a complex team of diverse energies and interests, where together you can get the work of the enterprise done in the short term and the long term, both effectively and efficiently. And you’re going to annoy and obstruct each other all along the way. Because these energies conflict with each other. They can’t quite live in partnership and harmony all the time. But that’s the way the world works.
And your goal as a team with different strengths is to make that world work for you and the purpose you have together.