Management 2.0 is Gary Hamel’s challenge to rethink an entrenched management philosophy that originated during a short but explosive expansion of the size and complexity of companies during a one-generation period around the start of the 20th century. His argument is that “what matters now” (the title of his recent book) will not be addressed by a management philosophy born in a radically different world than the one we live in now.
Hamel is a committed capitalist but feels a reinvention is overdue – even inevitable – based on five paramount issues: values, innovation, adaptability, passion, and ideology.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Hamel’s argument for Management 2.0 is that Management 1.0, if you will, has remained in place for so long mainly because the workplace has been generally stable and the rate of change in people’s environments has been pretty slow. The Internet has changed all of that but there’s no overarching management model to copy, only some few specific experiments to observe, and even those don’t follow a particular script beyond a willingness to try some radical approaches.
The implications are complex and confusing. Because this management revolution has no specific structure there’s no implementation map, no “experts” to help solve your specific problems. It’s not “lean”, although it can share some of the lean movement’s lessons on experimentation. It’s not “six sigma” or “Theory Y/Theory X” although each view can illuminate parts of a path.
The focus is shifted to the relationships within your organization, not ignoring tools but insisting that Management 2.0 is first and foremost about engaging hearts and minds.
My argument would be that we need to make our workplaces more democratic and more humane, first because it’s the right thing to do, and second because I think those types of organizations serve all of us better. The decision for most companies today is a philosophical one – Hamel claims that soon it will be an organizational survival question. Maybe, maybe not, but the fact that I’m not exactly certain how to go about this change isn’t going to stop me from trying.
I’ve been struggling through James Gleick’s “The Information” and it dawns on me that we are today still trying to figure out how to talk and think about profound technological changes influencing how we find, share, and create “information”. As Gleick points out, the changes are not simply in the tools but, more profoundly, in how we think about and interact with the world.
Case in point, there’s a difference between wanting to learn something and needing to know something. I want to “learn” to play the piano but I need to “know” how to set up my wireless network at home. Although they may seem equally difficult to some people, they are fundamentally different types of efforts.
I have done both but today I can sit down and play the piano but I couldn’t tell you how I set up my network. The “learning” (if that’s the right word) in the latter case involved knowing how to find the needed information, not the retention of that information (which will probably be useless by the time I need it again anyway).
It seems to me that people involved in helping learners would be well served to be thinking about the distinction and its implications in the design of “soft” tools and training.
I got involved in a discussion about “training” in a forum of “Chief Learning Officers” over at LinkedIn. The initial question was “How will training look 10 years from now”. Here are my thoughts:
Training and teaching are of interest to the “supplier”, learning is of interest to the “consumer”- assuming, of course, that what the consumer is after is knowledge. That’s not always, or even often, the case. Collecting certifications and credentials is a different sort of supplier/consumer relationship.
In the U.S., at least, we’ve always had the wrong person in the driver’s seat. Thinking about the supply side of this relationship (in a technological sense) ten years from now seems ultimately irrelevant, partly because the pertinent question is how will people be learning, but mostly because the uncertainty of that future doesn’t really inform any particular action today.
I agree that learners should lead the way, not follow the trainers. The question then is not “How should I train” but rather “How do I get things out of learners’ way”, which presumes I have some knowledge of how the best learners go about teaching themselves today.
In the business world the goal of training is largely a typically ineffective attempt at behavior modification. The trainers and the learners both have a vested interest in appearing to be successful, leadership is worried about more prosaic issues like the financial viability of their company, and thus their question is “Did our people learn anything?”, to which the answer always is “Yes”. The deeper questions of “what” and “how” are not deemed worthy of too much corporate investment.
But the fact is that people are alway learning, regardless of whether or not they’re being “trained”. More insidiously, what people learn often is not what those trainers thought they were teaching or what a company wants their people to “know”.
Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, has made headlines lately for an interview he did on ABC News where he talked about the “anti-scholarships” he’s giving to students with “big ideas” to drop out of college and pursue those ideas.
A more intriguing interview with Thiel was done by Sarah Lacy over at TechCrunch. In that interview Thiel describes higher education as the next big bubble. “A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he says.
In a way, his anti-scholarships are a way for him to thumb his nose at what he regards as an unchallenged narrative regarding higher education, namely that the one single guaranteed path to a secure future is college. Thiel doesn’t see it that way: “You have to get rid of the future you wanted to pay off all the debt from the fancy school that was supposed to give you that future.”
To me there’s a more fundamental issue lurking here that has nothing to do with “fancy schools” or “big ideas”. Access to education and training is quickly pricing itself out of the reach of ordinary Americans. All of the tax-payer money that supports public schools creates resources only a few of those taxpayers can afford to take advantage of.
Worse, the model of four years (or more) of intensive study, followed by the urgent need to get any job to pay off the debt incurred, often results in the “value” of that education not being leveraged for some years into the future. By which time the certification too often becomes simply a “get in free” card to an interview and the conversation switches to “experience”.
In my view, the “education bubble” is more about an ineffective model for a fast-changing world than a value calculation. Access to education needs to be easier, more flexible, and available over a person’s lifetime.
Welcome to my blog. I seem to find new things to wonder about every day. I’m constantly amazed by all of the interesting and creative people the world of blogging has made available to all of us.
My goal here is twofold:
- To capture and pass along interesting thought leaders as I discover them
- Indulge my own inclinations to write and muse on topics that catch my fancy
I’ve been told that it’s important to have a “theme” when one starts a blog, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what that might mean. If there are consistent threads of thought that arise here it won’t be because I planned it that way. I’m a fan of the magic of serendipity.
My belief is that inquiry follows curiosity at times and leads curiosity at others. The recognition of patterns and relationships is largely the creation of individual minds, and whatever “truth” that may come from that recognition is more a matter of consensus than of discovery. I’m sure there’s some label for that philosophical perspective but for me it’s just a matter of convenience – if I have to be “right”, I’ll never write.
Thanks – David