Friday, March 07, 2008

Future of Creative & Innovatie Managment

There appears to be a growing impatience with the lack of progress in management innovation and change in the very roles that managers play. Gary Hamel in his new book, The Future of Management, regards management innovation as "anything that substantially alters the way in which the work of management is carried out," including organizational forms. He distinguishes it from operational, product/service, or strategic innovation. Although he maintains that only limited incremental management innovation has taken place since the early part of the twentieth century, he believes the time may be right for significant change. He's not alone. Theodore Zeldin, a British historian who has spent a great deal of time studying the world of work, stated recently in an interview with the Financial Times that "the world of work must be revolutionized to put people—rather than things—at the centre of all endeavors."
Hamel envisions a future in which the goal of management is to build "nimble" organizations in which innovation is everyone's job; there is slack among human and other resources that allows people to think, innovate, and take measured risk outside the core activities of the business; there is more freedom and self-management and less management as we know it; there is more community and less hierarchy; and there is more shared sense of purpose and less need for management "exhortation." He sees many of these things in each of several organizations—including Whole Foods Markets, W. L. Gore, and Google—that he examines in some depth. These organizations share some things in common. All are operated in a team mode, with power given to the teams to run mini-businesses, including hiring, training, and firing personnel. All reward teams at all levels for performance. All provide generally unmonitored time for employees to develop product and service innovations as well as either redesign their jobs or relocate themselves within the organization. All share an extraordinary amount of information at all levels and devote a great deal of resources to making sure that all employees are connected. All "herald a future in which the work of managers is performed less and less by 'managers'." All are among the most outstanding places to work. All produce unusually high profits in their respective industries, which Hamel implies is the result of management innovation. And none are led by MBAs.
Reasons why we might see an unusual amount of management innovation in the coming years would certainly include the continued development of the Internet and the transparency and communities it has spawned, new attitudes toward work and the way it is performed, and global competition and cooperation, much of it fostered by the Internet. But will these forces outweigh the natural tendency of those in control to resist change? Will management innovation largely be confined to entrepreneurs (like those above) with little exposure to traditional management concepts? Even so, can we expect a slow but steady change in the list of most-admired organizations in the next few years as Gen X'ers and Y'ers assume leadership? And how will this all affect the teaching of management, which Hamel argues clings to time-worn management innovations of the twentieth century to which the founders of new-generation firms were largely not exposed? Hamel, admitting that he does not have all the answers, poses our question of the month: "What does the future of management look like to you?" What do you think?

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