First published in September 2016…
Reinventing management to deal with the complexities of the world and, therefore, the complexities of business challenges is something that, so far, seems unlikely to come from Business Schools.
Traditional management education has its roots in past, more predictable and stable times. If you look at the entire encyclopaedia of tools, frames, and methods, you’ll see that they all look today like a brave attempt to capture a reality that is moving faster than one can handle. It’s not that they are useless or inefficient, but that they feel a bit old and tired. They do not sit well in Silicon Valley, or many other valleys for that matter. Of course, Deans of Business Schools may differ.
The traditional human capital oriented functions such as HR, OD, L&D, Internal/External Communications are stuck. Communications a bit less, if anything because the digital toys force that tribe to its upgrade and to play differently.
If you look at the HR/OD/L&D worldwide conferences, you’ll have a déjà vu. A slightly more elaborate Employee Engagement questionnaire, a sharing of the world ideas to reward employees plus, yet another praise of the work-life balance world, do not seem to me like ‘progress’. The tribe continues to talk to the tribe members. And they feel good about it
‘Specialisation’ will have to start considering its own reinvention since no single discipline is anymore capable of answering a business or organisational challenge. The ‘Neo-Generalist’ (Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin, 2016) with a broad and mature formation, seems a better answer for the skill set that is new required.
Here are two examples of areas where ‘the answers’ now come from non-traditional business territories.
People’s motivation, triggering new behaviours and understanding the balance rationality/irrationality of decisions, can be better served from Behavioural Economics. Yet, not many HR/OD/L&D would know about this beyond the anecdote (and if I infer from recent meetings where I have been a keynote speaker, not even the term)
Culture change and shaping, and large scale change in general, can be better served and understood from the area of Social Movements and other ‘disciplines’ (praxis, in fact) where people mobilization is the ABC, such as political marketing. This is what Viral Change™ does.
‘Look outside’ is the motto of New Management. There is no Plan B for that.