What changes you would like to see occur in business management in the 21st century?

by Gary Hamel (ir al articulo completo)

I think we need a change in our underlying principles. In any field of human endeavor, you ultimately reach a point where you can’t solve the new problems with the old principles. I think that’s where we are in the world of management and leadership: Organizations are being challenged to be far more adaptive, innovative, and inspiring places to work. Yet our organizations were never built to be any of those things. They were built to be efficient, disciplined, focused, and accountable, but they weren’t built to be resilient, highly innovative, or truly engaging.

The real focus during the next decade or so needs to be on rethinking our management models—how we hire, promote, identify leaders, allocate resources, plan, and set direction. We’re going to have to look for some new principles because the old principles that are very deeply baked into our organization—principles of standardization, specialization, formal hierarchy, unitary command, the use of extrinsic rewards, and so on—were good principles, but they’re all in service of one overarching ideology, which is the ideology of control.

I think we need an ideological revolution in business. The ideology for the last 100 years has been “controlism,” and the tangible form of that ideology was bureaucracy. As we move from the industrial economy through the service economy to the knowledge economy, and now the creative economy, the relative value of control as a source of competitive advantage is going down.

To supplement the ideology of control with the ideology of freedom is, for me, the primary challenge of the 21st century. We must understand the new organizational principles that we will need to embed in our companies if we want to have that sort of freedom and still retain a necessary control. And then it will require a lot of experimentation to rebalance our management models in ways that give equal weight to control, focus, and discipline, and then to creativity, experimentation, and innovation.

I think the caste system in organizations is largely going to disappear. The old model in which the executive ranks make the big decisions, the middle managers basically run the control processes, and at the bottom, the operators complete the day-to-day tasks—I think that’s going to change dramatically. My sense is that going forward, at different times, everyone in the organization is going to play all three roles.

For example, if there is an open and participative process for creating strategy, an employee anywhere in the organization may have a great idea, and in that particular moment, he is playing an executive role. He is helping to set the direction of the enterprise. At another time, he may be leading a project team and is then in a management role, making sure that talent is assigned to the right tasks and things happen in a timely and orderly way. And then sometimes he’ll be in an operator role in which he’s simply getting something done.

The challenges that companies face today—to change more rapidly than ever before, to be more adaptable, to meet the expectations of this next generation of employees who are not going to work in management, and to make use of new social technologies—are conspiring to launch us on what I expect to be another round of fundamental management innovation unlike anything we’ve seen since the Industrial Revolution.

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