Wednesday, December 12, 2012

If only it were true

An interesting piece on "managerialism" past and present:
HBR Celebrates Its Graveyard Of Obsolete Management Ideas
Denning is spot on about the many failures of managerialism. I fear that he is too optimistic, however, about the future.

The new way of running organizations is not just a different set of management practices. It’s really a change in an ecosystem—from an ecosystem of hierarchical bureaucracy, internally focused and grinding along with the production of outputs, to an ecosystem that is agile and very externally focused on client-perceived outcomes.

It’s a paradigm shift from a mindset of “you take what we make” to “we want to understand your problems and will do whatever it takes to solve them”, as Ranjay Gulati has pointed out in his marvelous book, Reorganizing For Resilience (2010)

The paradigm shift entails a change from a world in which workers and customers are manipulated as things to a world in which workers and customers are interacted with as human beings.

If that really is the future, then sign me up. There are counter-currents at work, however, that make me wonder if the immediate future really belongs to the new paradigmers.

1. Whole industries have discovered that they can make billions in profit by manipulating their customers. Credit cards, cell phones,and cable TV companies have become masters at nickel-and-diming their customers through hidden charges, stealth price increases, and quality fade.

2. We are in the midst of a Christmas shopping season in which retailers took away Thanksgiving for millions of their employees. Does anyone really think that this happened after respectful interaction with said employees?

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