Old road, new direction

Wednesday, 25 December 2013 - 9:38am IST | Agency: DNA
Ability of businesses to manage innovatively is critical to the successful development of a knowledge-based economy, says Suresh Raina.

Modern management owes its origin to the original thinkers including Max Webber, Taylor, Deming, Drucker and others. It was invented to solve the inefficiency that had crept in the production systems. Businesses were moving away from the traditional artisanship and attaining size and scale due to mechanisation. More people were now working in factories. Managing workers to deliver higher production efficiently had become critical.

Traditional management model advocates tight oversight, rigid planning, strict policies and procedures, appraisals and assessments, basically highlighting the old management school principle, “Management knows best”. This helps in managing more people but does not support creative passion of employees. Peter Drucker changed the game. He coined the term ‘knowledge worker’. This was radically different from the orthodox way of managing that most people believed in, thus leading to a conflicting scenario.

The world is changing rapidly. Economies have seen explosive growth and sudden contractions especially during the past two decades. The moot question now is how organisations will manage the business in future. How will they manage talent and performance, and run strategy.

Innovation is now the buzz word- whether it is from product or process innovation. So why not have management innovation? Management innovation focuses on the way the working of an organisation may be enhanced by relooking at the way the managers hire, lead and work with people.

From a people perspective, one needs to identify the capabilities that contribute to management success.  In his book “Future of Management”, Gary Hamel has identified the attributes along with the percentage contribution they make to the success of the organisation:

OBEDIENCE: Ability to take instructions and follow them. Contribution: Almost nothing as it is a given and does not contribute much.

DILIGENCE: Not taking short cuts, following the process. Contribution: 5 per cent
Knowledge and intellect: We are living in a knowledge economy where access to knowledge is no longer significant. So it is rather the ability to understand the task at hand and to execute the same is what is crucial.  Improving the skills continuously and willingness to borrow best practices, is also important. Contribution: 15 per cent

INITIATIVE: Seeking out new challenges, taking up the task and finishing it without being told and followed is vital. Contribution: 20%

CREATIVITY: Inquisitive and not afraid to ask even seemingly stupid questions. They are always open to new ideas and nurture the imagination that brings new products and services to the public. Contribution: 25 per cent

PASSION: This is most significant and helps people translate intent into accomplishment. This is extremely contagious and turns crusades into mass movements. Contribution: 35 per cent
While management has traditionally extracted obedience & diligence from employees easily, the same cannot be said about creativity and passion. The latter, which are the most valued attributes are demonstrably the least manageable, but challenge the role of the management. How do you get the most from your teams especially in the knowledge economy? Be it a software company or a large manufacturing organisation, a healthcare business or a bank, management innovation leads us to the thought that people do not need more managing. It actually means managing them less. It implies less order, less monitoring and review but more space and freedom, and more responsibility and accountability. This also means the need for less management and fewer managers. Traditional management depends on hierarchical models that managing large teams effectively but is not good at mobilising effort from a large pool of resources. The more the management meddles in the day to day operations, the less freedom the employees enjoy.

The author is Senior Partner, Hunt Partners-India, `executive search firm

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