I don’t think ‘rethinking the enterprise’ is anything new. You could argue that the history of management has this rethinking embedded. However, I believe we are in front of a more-than-tweaking inflection point. I’m not usually very excited by the always pending epiphany of the type: now, listen, this is really, really, really different. But, I think, it may be. Now
The fundamentalist-capitalist model is tired, to say the least.
Philanthropy is up.
‘Purpose’ has come back, by the hand of new generations of managers and employees, even if in many translations.
The old excited ‘new thing’ of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is also having a middle age crisis, perhaps because we have exhausted the quota of Vice Presidents of CSR, and annual reports on CSR, and, because nobody seriously know what exactly that means, beyond the political correctness narratives.
Management is crying ‘surely, it must be a better way!’ (read change management, employee engagement, and other sub industries).
The consulting model of the Big Consulting Groups of landing 200 MBAs on your territory, all armed with templates and wearing an uniform, doing the job for you, is gone; only still alive because Boards of companies want that as their own safety net.
Self-management models promise a nirvana that is not much of a nirvana in practical terms.
Apparently, ‘the future of management is real’ and companies have been classified in colours via post-hoc research of dubious solidity.
There are other signs of desperation.
The old god of traditional management is dead, and we are not feeling very well. So, yes, perhaps this is the inflection point. Perhaps we need to think fresh, which is not the same as throwing the management baby out with the dirty bathwater.
Inflection point, maybe. I think most likely. But the end of the world is postponed, again, and we will come out stronger and with better ideas. I believe.
How? Thinking critically and being a bit more humble. For starter.
I was curious to see last December in a French magazine a joint statement by three French leaders, all with previous top executive titles of big companies: Jean-Paul Bailly (La Poste), Bertrand Collomb (Lafarge Group) and Henri Lachmann (Schneider Electric Group) plus, Paule Boffa-Comby, President of ReThink & LEAD. After saying more or less that the past is not what it used to be, and the present looks more like the future (sorry, my words), they banked on four ‘solutions’:
Recognize the importance of economic success and recapture the spirit of the collective and the public interest.
Give back the sense of trust is essential to multiply the potential of the company and allow teams to mobilize and give the best of themselves.
Believe in the potential of all employees to excel and to solve the most difficult problems.
Reinvent leadership models for everyone to find a breathing space
With my apologies for the surely poorly translated messages, look at the themes: man, trust, employee potential and reinventing leadership. Mmm! Do you mean no process and systems and reengineering and restructuring and all that Big Stuff?
If this is not a ‘disruptive inflection’, I am not sure what it is.