The Social Era Challenges Old Management Myths

by Jay Deragon on 01/09/2013

mythsA myth is a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society. The Social Era is challenging all management myths.

There are as many management theories as there are management gurus, academics, and bloggers. And since theories – true or not – have a tendency to stick around the human network tends to accept the theories as truth when in fact they are myths.

Management isn’t a science; it’s an art. It involves millions of people in thousands of organizations, each of which is unique. That’s what makes it so subjective, by definition. Some innovative management concepts become the rule, but they’re rare, for most they are passing fads.

The thing that makes modern management theory so painful to read isn’t usually the dearth of reliable empirical data. It’s that maddening doctrine of infallibility.  The doctrine of infallibility relies on one of the cornerstones of management dogma: that of the supremacy of the manager, and his authority to be the ruling agent in deciding what will be accepted as formal beliefs and behavior within the organization and in many cases within entire industries.

The best business schools will tell you that management education is mainly about building skills—one of the most important of which is the ability to think (or what the M.B.A.s call “problem solving”). Then they teach you formula’s to solve problems. That is akin to repetative dog training rather than teaching people how to think.

Thinking About Value In The Social Era

All of business is about values, all of the time.  If a business doesn’t “think” about values then it simply cannot create value that people want to use, consume or share.  Management myths have influenced organizational beliefs to accept the fallacy of activities without purpose and identity without meaning. Ask employees and customers and their sentiment suggest that management has pushed aside values for the pursuit of money, power and politics.

The Social Era challenges old management myths which have perpetuated organizational behaviors that do not reflect common “values” of the human network. The human network has been freed from the constraints of traditional organizations and empowered to connect with networks representing commom values. Through these networks people are learning to think outside the myths of management and discovering new meaning that matters to the pursuit of individual purpose.

Think about the implications of common values pursuing a collective purpose. Continue to think and you will discover the emerging dynamics of the Social Era that will change everything about the values of business as unusual.


Neil White January 11, 2013 at 8:30 am

I think this is most worthwhile and current piece of text. An organisation that fails to understand the power and utility that may be embedded in ‘the social network’ may live (or not) to regret it. If it can topple a country’s administration it can certainly significantly impact an organisations business operations. Also, almost word for word, I agree with Paul’s perspective.

Neil White
Change Management Consultant

Paul Barnett January 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I agree with much of what you say, but it is simply not true to say, “Management isn’t a science; it’s an art”. Good management involves both art and science, in various degress according to the nature of the particular management task.

Paul Barnett
Founder & CEO, Strategic Management Bureau

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