Are You Ready for the New World of Management?

Guest Author Blog: The New Wave of Management is Upon Us… Are you Ready? by Edward E. Lawler III and Christopher G. Worley, co-authors of "MANAGEMENT RESET: Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness."

The time for a management reset has come, and it’s not simply a matter of making leaders more effective or adopting the latest twist on how to engage employees. Rather, it must be a seismic change; a complete rethinking of what an organization’s objectives are and the way they are achieved.

Management Reset
Management Reset

What does this new world of management look like?

Consider this: Your work week begins with you walking into a company meeting of 150 people. While most people are physically present, many are attending virtually. Everyone has gathered to design a new product or service solution to reduce water use in rural homes—an issue your futuring process has determined will soon become a huge environmental issue in Southeast Asia. Included in the meeting are company employees as well as members of non-governmental organizations, governments, health officials and potential customers.

For the next two-and-a-half days you work in a series of small groups, describing and designing a solution that everyone agrees will generate a reasonable profit, a positive impact on the natural environment, and an improvement in the quality of life in rural communities. At the end of the meeting you are exhausted but delighted by the outcomes. You wish you could go to “your office” to decompress and catch up on what has happened in the past two days, but like almost everyone else in your company, you do not have an office. Instead, you access your video mail via the link in your car and arrive home in time to spend an evening with your family.

Will environmental and social issues really be a front and center issue in the next management reset? Absolutely. The next reset will require companies to be as keenly tuned to a range of societal stakeholders as they are now to a range of investors. This orientation already exists at renowned organization as Patagonia, PepsiCo and Unilever .

Will you really get a chance to think ahead and address issues before they become crises? Yes, and it won’t be just you and a few key managers involved in futuring processes. It will include most members of your organization and key stake holders. Such broad involvement in thinking about the future is the only way organizations will be able to keep up with the pace of change.

"Offices are an expensive artifact of an era when the Internet did not exist and office size and location was a source of status and a valued reward." -Authors, Management Reset, Edward E Lawler & Christopher G Worley

Will your job description call for you to participate in large group design meetings? No, because job descriptions lost their usefulness years ago, and the next management reset will acknowledge that jobs themselves are an obsolete notion. Instead, work will be defined by the projects and initiatives that drive current effectiveness and create future strategies. And don’t count on your place in the hierarchy to give you power—there are many leaders in your organization because people rise to the occasion when leadership is needed.

Will offices be a thing of the past? Yes, and to a large extent they already are. Offices are an expensive artifact of an era when the Internet did not exist and office size and location was a source of status and a valued reward. In the next reset, where you work will be determined by what you are doing and who you are doing it with. It is just as likely to be conducted in virtual space as it is in physical space.

So what else should you expect to see, as the corporations of today become sustainable management organizations?

The Way Value Is Created

Sustainable management organizations substitute robust strategies for competitive ones. A robust strategy is successful over a broad range of conditions over a long period of time and capable of changing to address short-term opportunities and threats. It is crafted to create a combination of social, environmental and economic value. It looks for a series of momentary competitive advantages.

The Way Work Is Organized

Sustainable management organizations need a design that makes them adaptable, responsive to changing conditions, and responsive to multiple stakeholders. The structure, work processes and management processes of SMOs need to facilitate innovation and execution, collaboration and efficiency. Achieving this requires high levels of contact between employees and the business environment; the development of innovative units; flexible, budget-less control systems; new ways of working; and value-creating networks

The Way People Are Treated

Key to the success of organizations that create value based on their competencies and capabilities is how they treat talent. It is critical that the right talent be attracted, retained, developed and motivated. To do this, sustainable management organizations need reward systems that focus on skills; talent management systems that identify and retain the “right” employees; and performance management systems that are tied to the organization’s strategy.

The Way Behavior Is Guided

How employees behave is strongly influenced by the combination of their organization’s leadership style and culture. Sustainable management organizations need to be led with an approach that creates leaders throughout the organization and that rejects the imperial CEO model. They need a culture that loves change, innovation and sustainable performance.

The new wave of management is upon us… are you ready?

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from Management Reset: Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness by Edward E. Lawler, III, Christopher G. Worley with David Creelman. Copyright (c) 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.

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