The old management structures (existing in most organizations), were all about command and control, about creating things, and replicating them efficiently.
That is how the value was created, but now increasingly creating value in organizations requires imagination, creativity, and different thinking.
Processes like manufacturing are now outsourced, no longer do corporates strive to make the cheapest widget, today that widget must be better designed, and have more and better unique features than its competitors.
That is the value add, and that is why organizations require innovation and creativity.
Read any employee engagement survey and they will show that only around 29% of employees are actively engaged with their organization i.e. actively contributing to corporate outcomes.
The other seven in ten people turn up, but leave their intellect, innovation, and creativity behind, they just do their job.
They have no real motivation to bring these qualities to work.
What is amazing, is that most people are creative and innovative, as an example just looks at the millions of blogs being written every day, the vibrancy of Facebook, the vitality of MySpace and the thousands of pictures and movies being loaded daily onto Flickr and Youtube.
Garry Hamel in his book, Future Management has been exploring just this paradox: “Turns out that in an age of wrenching change and hyper-competition, the most valuable human capabilities are precisely those that are least manageable. Nerve. Artistry. Elan. Originality. Grit. Non-conformity. Valor. Derring-do.
These are the qualities that create value in the 21st century. Self-discipline. Economy. Orderliness. Rationality. Prudence. Reliability. Moderation. Fastidiousness. These are the human qualities modern management was designed to foster and reward. No wonder most organizations are less resilient and inventive than the people who work for them.”
“One can fairly describe the development of modern management as an unending quest to regularize the irregular, starting with errant and disorderly employees.
Increasingly, though, we live in an irregular world, where irregular people take advantage of irregular events and use irregular means to produce irregular products that yield irregular profits.”
He recommends a management revolution within organizations but also looks outside the organization for solutions: “We have for many decades been living in a “post-industrial” society.
I believe we are now on the verge of a “post-managerial” society, perhaps even a “post-organizational” society. Before you start hyperventilating, let me assure you that this doesn’t mean a future without managers.
Just as the coming of the knowledge economy didn’t herald the death of a heavy industry, a “post-managerial” economy won’t be entirely free of executives, supervisors, administrators, and overseers.
But it does imply a future in which the “work of management” is less and less the responsibility of “managers.”
To be sure, activities will still need to be coordinated, individual efforts aligned, relationships nurtured, objectives decided upon, and knowledge disseminated.
But increasingly, this work will be distributed out to those on the periphery.”
By the periphery, Hamel is talking about how the internet enables virtual teams to morph, connect and collaborate, more like organisms than organizations. The development of open source software is a prime example.
Thousands of software developers are not only working on projects for their employers but are also collaborating with communities of developers to create software, usually open source software, for example, Linux.
This software is not just being developed in their own time, but via the web in their ‘employers’ time too.
Talented individuals who are not particularly fulfilled intellectually or financially at work, are now doing it for themselves.
Technology is enabling networks of professionals from around the world to come together and collaborate on stuff which interests and motivates them, and they do it for fun as well as profit.
It is as if the traditional corporate pyramid management structure is suddenly sprouting new shoots, like a Christmas tree on steroids.
It is what Professor Mark S Shoate calls: Wikis, in his book, “Professional Wikis: Collaboration on the Web”.
In the book, he contends that future endeavors will be created like the online encyclopedia: Wikipedia, by content delivery and information sharing on the web.
This movement will require it’s own networks & infrastructure, a sort of a mixture of Facebook, LinkedIn, and eBay, where suppliers and customers meet and trade on the web.
If you think about it, it could be the next big killer application, and some bright entrepreneur is going to make millions. Alternatively, perhaps we could get together and Wiki it for ourselves.