‘Management’ is like a cocktail party. Some people may get a little bit excited; others certainly drink too much, talk too much, and regret it the next day. Grandiose projects, promises and commitments are made, but their solidity peak at the end of the party. Lots of people seem to be right at the same time, even if they say contradictory things, but the liquids provide the appropriate safety net. It could be noisy, ego busting, a bit unreal; and also, it could be boring, uncomfortable, you just want to go home. Or, it could just be great time!
Yet, it’s a noble profession that can help the shaping of not just organizations but the lives of many individuals, in the ways that not many other professions do. Because it has to provide logic, guidelines, directions and ways to measure, it has a hard job. It can be trivialised, overestimated, desired by many, hated by many. It can be messy, military, liberating, enslaving.
Forensic minds such as Peter Drucker or Henry Mintzberg have been often hypercritical of management whilst always injecting common sense and a sense of the truth. The truth is hard to find in ‘management practices’. Evidence-based ‘management frames’ are thin on the ground. We have anecdotes, lots of them, testimonials, heroic figures, demons and ‘demi-gods. Ah, and we have ‘case studies’ from Business Schools which standards of critical thinking are well below investigational journalism. (If you want to write a case study, hire a journalist, not an MBA).
I ,for one, want to make management exciting, a noble profession, something people may wan to aspire to. It is possible. But a first step in this journey is to get rid of old toolkits. ‘Work life’ has never been so potentially exciting. But we need all our imagination, a critical mind and lots of hope.
The management party will be repeated. This revolution will not be twitted. It will be created by people who feel it is possible, in 2015-16, to build remarkable organizations. If management needs to be reinvented, so be it.