The Chasm Of Management Practices

by Jay Deragon on 09/10/2014

There is a management chasm emerging that left unchecked could destroy your organizations future.

A chasm is a marked division, separation, or difference between one point and another. In the field of management practices the points are past practices vs. future practices. Being stuck in the chasm means you are not going anywhere but down the ravine.

In a Forbes article titled “Do Managers Matter Anymore?” Giovanni Rodriguez writes: While some very large firms can still get away with adopting a command-and-control approach to their ecosystem, the growth and learning of business ecosystems depend on adopting a very different leadership approach, one that focuses on persuasion and motivation. Leaders who rose in traditional command and control environments can find that this quickly takes them outside their comfort zone.

But there’s something even bigger they need to address, because even the bully pulpit is not enough. In the so-called leaderless world, CEOs not only need to raise their game as leaders.  They need to understand how to raise the game of others.  To quote management consulting icon Tom Peters – whose personal brand came of age at the dawn of the digital era that’s brought so much disruption, “leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

A very different kind of “CEO as hero” is now emerging, one who sees the opportunity to amplify the impact of everyone by shaping and influencing rather than directing.  That’s a long way from the mindset of the leaderless organization.  What we’re looking at is the opportunity to make organizations “leaderful.”  In the meantime, if you’re a CEO, we recommend that you ask if your leadership glass is half empty or half full.  There’s cause for optimism for CEOs who know they matter, but understand how others matter too.

But What Matters Most?

Most of our management rituals were invented (a very long time ago) to promote discipline, control, alignment, and predictability—all laudable goals. To out-innovate the upstarts, a company must reengineer all of these processes so they facilitate bold thinking and radical doing.  Thinking and acting radical is the new focus on the 21 century organization. To think and act radically requires management to not think selfishly. The entie model of management has been designed as a selfish tank of control and power.

In case you haven’t noticed selfishness is out and selflessness is in. That means management can no longer be the center of control of information and power rather management must serve the power nodes that control information and direct engagement with customers, markets, suppliers and employees.

The chasm is the ravine created by the lack of understanding and lack of willingness to understand.



conventional_wisdom_is_an_oxymoronCompanies have failed at executing strategies 70% of the time.

Two decades ago, 70 percent of McKinsey’s revenues came from strategy and corporate finance but most now flow from hands-on work in risk, operations and marketing and less from strategic thinking.

So strategic execution fails most of the time and the demand for strategy development has fallen considerably. The conventional wisdom of management consultants has been that you must have a business strategy for the future before you develop a business plan to follow.

Has the wisdom of the market become unconventional in the 21st century? This is an important question for any business. If the answer is yes then there is no wisdom in following conventional wisdom.

Conventional wisdom is not necessarily true. Conventional wisdom is additionally often seen as an obstacle to the acceptance of newly acquired information, to introducing new theories and explanations, and such wisdom operates as an obstacle that must be overcome by legitimate alternative views seen as unconventional. Such ideas as real-time and crowd sourced strategies considered unconventional to the conventional wisdom of traditional management consultants. Yet these are real alternatives for the unconventional thinkers.

Unconventional Paradigm Shifts

The pace of unconventional trends that quickly become reality have disrupted the conventional wisdom of the past is accelerating faster than most want to believe. Consider some of the emerging trends:

  1. Stakeholders now have more power than companies through social media and networks
  2. Business has moved from strategy to execution centric focus
  3. Data historically viewed statically is now moved to being viewed in real-time and dynamically
  4. From mental models of owned to shared models
  5. From top down to bottom up flow of information and control of decisions that impact stakeholders
  6. From work here to work anywhere
  7. From measuring tangible results to creating & measuring  intangible value
  8. From Enterprise IT to Consumerization of IT
  9. From making the transition to embracing the disruption
  10. From workplace to socialplace: the convergence of work and life as one, not two places

There is nothing conventional about the issues listed above except these trends are resisted by conventional wisdom.

Markets have become complex, more nuanced and less predictable than what conventional wisdom has led us to believe. Smarter consultants, and companies, understand the demands of a marketplace that has become transparent, social, informed, demanding and more influential than the marketing efforts of the supply side.  Smarter Consultants focus on understanding the value of human capital, the ongoing creation of relationship capital, co-creation of strategic capital in real-time with a broader definition of stakeholders and leveraging shared structural capital with a community.

Smarter Consultants help organizations improve productivity and joy in work by enabling people to make decisions that better serve other people, stakeholders. Smarter Consultants are about helping organizations improve results by empowering behaviors that improve results. Empowering behaviors is an unconventional wisdom because it is more about managing the intangibles than measuring the tangible.

Smarter consultants, and companies, don’t follow conventional wisdom they do things the unconventional way.


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