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22 January 2009

Is it time for a new approach to management?

The traditional approaches to managing organizations have been optimized so much that there little improvement that can be made. At the same time there are huge changes in society and how people want and expect to work.

With the growth of collaboration technologies such as web 2.0 and entry of generation Y into the workforce things are starting to change.

The time has come to ask if the real change for organisations is away from the centralised bureaucratic model of the early twentieth century?

If that is the case, then what should our new model organisation be modelled on? Everyone knows that somebody has to be in charge - or do they? What would happen if:

  • ... we decided to trust people to do their jobs?
  • ... management became a dialogue instead of a monologue?
  • ... collaboration and collective intelligence was the order of the day?
  • ... we used technology to enable all of this?
None of this is to say that quality is unimportant, or that meeting business targets is unimportant. By the way, who says that quality cannot be built in using trust and collaborative work practices?

But for all of these changes listed above to work it is necessary that there is two-way communication, clarity of & responsibilities, clarity of strategic purpose and tactical execution. The principles of agile software development and scrum exemplify this approach. All of these changes call upon better management practices than we often see in a command control environment.

Most of all these changes work from a presumption of trust. I've worked with organisations where the mere idea of trusting the staff is horrifying to managers.

The important thing for managers to remember is that the control you have is only an illusion anyway. Nothing a manager achieves is done without the participation of others. Imagine how much more could be achieve if the others were actively engaged in the process rather than just along for the ride.

[Image source: USDA Farm Service Agency]

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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