Is There Any Truth In The Spin?

by Jay Deragon on 01/29/2009

Reversing How Business SpinsWhen one looks at the history of Management Theories and Practices one can see an evolving process adapting to cultural and environmental shifts over time. Much, if not all, of the theories and practices have aimed at improving productivity and profit.

The failure of past theories and practices has been the inability to comprehend and maximize the potential people hold due to a failure in the fundamentals of building relationships.

Stay with us for a minute: Lets summarize the evolution of management theories and practices:

Modern managers use many of the practices, principles, and techniques developed from earlier concepts and experiences. The Industrial Revolution brought about the emergence of large-scale business and its need for professional managers. Early military and church organizations provided the structural and leadership models.

Traditional or classical management focuses on efficiency and includes bureaucratic, scientific and administrative management. Bureaucratic management relies on a rational set of structuring guidelines, such as rules and procedures, hierarchy, and a clear division of labor. Scientific management focuses on the “one best way” to do a job. Administrative management emphasizes the flow of information in the operation of the organization.

In the mid-1960s, the contingency view of management or situational approach emerged. This view emphasized the fit between organization processes and the characteristics of the situation. It calls for fitting the structure of the organization to various possible or chance events. It questions the use of universal management practices and advocates using traditional, behavioral, and systems viewpoints independently or in combination to deal with various circumstances.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s organizations adopted Quality Management. Quality Management emphasized achieving customer satisfaction by providing high quality goods and services. Re-engineering the organization and redesigning the processes that are crucial to customer satisfaction.

In the 90’s and through today we’re witnessing Chaos Theories of Management. Chaos models an organization as a complex adaptive system that interacts and evolves with its surroundings. Many seemingly random movements in nature exhibit structured patterns. Living systems operate at their most robust and efficient level in the narrow space between stability and disorder — poised at “the edge of chaos.” It is here that the agents, people and technology, within a system conduct the fullest range of productive interactions and exchange the greatest amount of useful information.

Throughout the history of management theories and practices certain functional roles evolved such as human relations which then evolved into human resources. People have been viewed as a resource, which they are, but treated like a disposable assets for the sake of achieving short term profits. Human resource management practices have become more about compliance to policies and rules rather than understanding the very value and dynamics of building and sustaining healthy relations.

Corporate cultures have become complex organisms which set the tone of behavior from which people’s values are molded to respond accordingly. People quickly learn the cultural rules and try to survive within those rules by adapting their behavior accordingly. People have sacrificed principals for economic return, a pay check and the promise of a bonus or stock options.

Relationships with other people, whether labeled as employees, customers or suppliers, have been molded around the corporate message or what has become known as “spinwhich is a marketing term for hiding the truth. People have know this for decades but have not had the means to speak out collectively against the “spin” until the social web appeared and provided the tools and the means, one to one to millions.

The Power of Attraction

The social web has become the medium for open conversations and connections with like minded people. While one can find “spin” the majority of the conversations are free flowing expressions about anything and everything, including corporate “spin”. There are millions upon millions of conversations happening daily and the very nature of the web provides the means for these conversations to be open, engaging and with global reach.

People attract people and social technologies enable people to gather and converse in “swarms”. Swarms create movement, shifts, traffic and a collective voice to be heard and recognized as a market. A market that relates based on frank and honest communications, no spin rather freedom of expression.

The institution called business is measured by profit. Profit is an end result of interactive processes, products, technology and services with people. Advancements in management theories and practices have adapted to the demand for quality, efficiency and effectiveness but have failed in relationships. The next wave of management practices that will significantly enhance profitability is the wave that transforms an organizations relationship with people.

The social web will become the neoclassical school for business because it is a movement reacting to the shortcomings of the historical approaches to management practices and theories that have failed the most important factor of business, the people.

What say you?

{ 9 comments }

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Dan October 30, 2008 at 1:10 am

I am wondering if Social Networks and structured management are mutually exclusive. If social networks are self-regulating in their free flowing bliss, who needs management – or government for that matter? Likewise, the blogs are full of articles about companies trying to get social networks to “work for them” – the T word always arises.

I just posted an article on my blog discussing the differences between industry clusters and technology clusters (http://www.ingenesist.com/business-plans/social-enterprise-innovation-clusters.html). In a technology cluster, people would float from industry to industry cross pollinating technology on a supply and demand basis. Meanwhile the traditional corporation is largely set up to pay the employee the absolute minimum they can to show up at 8:00 and sit in the cubical for 8 hours – no floaters please.

Somewhere out there, I sense a line in the sand.

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