Don't Fire All the Managers

Don't fire all the managers -- yet. Though Gary Hamel recently wrote a Harvard Business Review article with that suggestion, he's also participating in the Management 2.0 Hackathon which has a more measured approach. Let's participate in that before we determine the fate of the managers. 

The Management 2.0 Hackathon is a quick (seven month), coordinated effort to reinvent management. I participated in the pilot (pdf of the report) and was happy to dig into our first sprint: The Limits of Management 1.0. We've been asked to consider the problems with current management forms and then to clarify the boundaries so we understand what we're dealing with. I see this as the stop-look-listen phase of our work. 

Gary Hamel (author, professor, and one of the Management Innovation Exchange founders, the community of practice that is behind this hackathon) offered us this image to highlight his view of management 1.0's problems.

My take: Abolishing incrementalism is the key to our success.

Inertia is a reality. Organizations are like giant container ships. They are governed by natural forces. I see managing around their mass as more effective than trying to change the laws of physics.

Disempowerment is a symptom of trying to work with inertia and incrementalism. 

Abolishing incrementalism will be like pruning and fertilizing for a new spring. 

To complete this first sprint, we've been asked to do the following (within a discussion group related to one of the pathologies - in my case: Incrementalism).

  1. Within this pathology category, what do you think is the most pressing root cause to address?
  2. Provide a practical example or short story or where we have seen this root cause affect an organization.

My contribution is that it starts even before we can hope people are innovators. Formally, innovation means new to the organizations (versus invention which is new to everyone). I think the problem is even at a lower level that too few people trained as innovators. I'd offer that too few people are trained as designers. Even when possible working components are available, many of use could do more with what we have if we were taking a design perspective. 

I think this goes to the heart of the idea of a hackathon - management or otherwise. If we all thought of all of our work as a hackathon opportunity (along these lines), we'd expand the number of innovators dramatically. Yes, we have too few people trained as innovators -- but we are unlikely to change that if we don't have people inspired to hack their work. 

I'm thinking about Motivation*Opportunity*Ability = Performance. We need the motivation to get Management 2.0 going.

I'll use the Transportation Safety Authority (U.S.) as a practical example. My view is that they parachuted in the current backscatter scanners and methods. They made minimal changes to the overall observed security approach, but have rather added small changes along the way.

 

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