I couldn’t agree more. How many times has this occurred with leadership teams and organizational leaders. Take a simple problem, lose total perspective, and give it a life that is absolutely unnecessary. We kill ourselves!
As Umair Haque posted on Twitter back in November; “Name a “working” institution. Just one. Better yet, define a “working” institution. See the problem? Management is the problem:
- Learning Management
- Information Management
- Human Resource Management
- Financial Management; etc.
We falsely believe we can manage the future, based on the past. Researchers have shown experts do worse than laypeople in predicting the stock market and that these experts do even worse than just flipping a coin. Managing for the future is a conceit of those in power and our institutions are based on the notion of being able to manage complex systems using mechanistic models.
For any change initiative, there is often an assumption of going from the current state to a desired state, as if there is some kind of linear progression. This can be the false presumption of many a performance analysis. Thinking in terms of networks moves us beyond linear thinking. Dave Gray says we even need to change the way we think about change:
If change is a constant, then the only real sustainable competitive advantage is to be able to grow and evolve continually, to stay ahead of the competitive pack.
You can’t do this with the traditional business structure that we’ve inherited from the industrial revolution. This isn’t like redecorating a room in your house or moving the furniture around. This is a major rehab project that might affect the foundations, the plumbing and everything else. It requires some pretty fundamental rethinking of the way your company is structured, how you execute your strategy, and how you’re going to evolve.
What the world requires today is organizations that are capable of continuous creativity and innovation, that can adapt and evolve on a continual basis; organizations that can generate new businesses, that can sprout and branch into new categories and new industries; that can recover quickly from failures and move on.
I have not seen organizations move toward a more social business model without changing management. That may mean reducing the number of managers; empowering people who are customer-facing; or significantly opening up the workflow and making it more transparent. Management is the problem but management is also the solution, if you change it.
A world without bosses may seem like science fiction but then so did a world without secretaries, typing pools, or switchboard operators not that long ago. To be successful in changing to a networked enterprise, the management structure must be up for negotiation. This may be the critical question to ask at the beginning of any change (social business, enterprise 2.0, social learning) initiative. Is management on the table? If not, why even start?
Image: William Jay Gaynor: NYC under new management (1913)