Reinventing management

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The emergence of management in the 1800s, the organ of structured institutions largely shaped by management theorists and thinkers have evolved. The first remodelling began in 1932 questioning the 1800s management theory based on Frederick Taylor’s principles of scientific management. Adam Smith also gave good insights hammering the importance of the division of labour and how it translates into increased productivity.

Apart from a company’s business model (how an organization makes money, what results it considers impactful, and how to stay relevant), management is the most important element of how a company as a construct operates.

George Siemens, the man who built the Deutsche bank into Europe’s leading financial powerhouse between 1870 and 1880, once said, “Without management, a bank is so much scrap, fit only to be liquidated. Management is the engine of modern society.

The discipline of management has since gone through layers of change. Old ideas are still taught in business schools, and in use by big institutions around the world. But in practice management has evolved with innovative companies and disruptors charting new ways of management, organizational development and business model innovation.

Our current management procedure needs to change. We can no longer do business as usual. Tension is brewing as a result of 5 major factors driving change in today’s global market.

 

  1. Covid-19 (Redeploying talent, managing the workforce and interfacing customers need to be embedded in management operational procedures as a result of the effect of the global pandemic)
  2. Web 2.0 ( A set of next-generation internet technologies making it possible to create highly social applications allowing users to interact with content in diverse ways. Think Netflix, HBO, Amazon)
  3. Generation Y (Those born between the 1980s, and 1900s and assumed to be more technology and electronics inclined)
  4. Emerging economies (Africa and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India & China) with fast-growing industries.
  5. Sustainability: There is no alternative to sustainable development. It is affecting how companies think about product development, processes and business models.

Public institutions are the worst hit by continuous management crisis. Their management process is perceived to be inert and inefficient for the most part. But the glaring weakness of the lack of management in most public institutions cannot be addressed in this article. I am mainly focusing on business or privately held organizations.

 

The problem we face is that we have made a permanent home with the orthodox view of management. Largely because of its success in the past. Today, the quality of management in business organizations is dissipating yet many hold on to the past glory of success.

Covid 19, Web 2.0, Generation Y, Emerging Economies & building for sustainability are major drivers setting the agenda to reinvent management.

We are on the cusp of a revolution

The traditional top-down bureaucracy with emphasis primarily on job titles and less emphasis on function and performance needs to be remodelled.

We cannot place leadership above management. Leadership in many organizations is glorified, and management is mostly given minimal attention if any out of necessity. That has to change.  We all need to be leaders and managers. Leadership matters but not at the expense of management.

We need to keep having conversations about reinventing management. It needs to be a multi-stakeholder discourse, innovating around new governance models, encourage cross-company sharing, and new rules guiding intellectual property.

Collaboration at this scale is extremely difficult but not impossible. Dee Hock described in his book on the origination of the Visa network how he was able to convince senior-level bank executives to agree to a common set of standards that led to the creation of the credit card history we have come to know today.

 

 

 

 

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