September 12, 2019
Why Management is the Biggest Drag on Your Organization
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You’re sitting across the desk from an eager sales rep. She’s there to present a hot new concept in how to run a company. The conversation goes something like this…
“Hi. I’m so excited to share this brilliant concept with you on how to run a company! First of all, let me say that this technology is 150 years old, so it’s a proven process. And, it is designed specifically to minimize your employees’ contribution to your company. All you have to do is tell each employee exactly what he or she needs to do, just like a child. And, of course you’ll need a small army of people checking that they are accurately following directions. All this means that your organization is like a well-oiled machine. This amazing process is called management!”
This would likely be a very short sales call.
If human beings were like machine parts and nothing in the marketplace ever changed more than incrementally once a decade, this might be a viable process today as it was 150 years ago when it was invented.
Unfortunately however, people are not machine parts and the world is changing faster than ever before. Besides, you didn’t need to be sold on the idea of management, it’s all you’ve ever known and is how you run your company.
It’s not your fault, traditional management is completely ingrained into the culture of business.
Forbes magazine wrote an article a few years ago touting the hottest companies around, demonstrating their prowess with 10-12% profit margins. So that gives us a baseline for looking at high performance.
But first, let’s consider how nature does it.
Take one kernel of corn, just one of maybe 2000 on the ear. Let’s poke a hole in the dirt, drop in the kernel, cover it with dirt, let the rains come, and in about 120 days check back. What do we see? Three or four ears of corn, each containing about 2000 kernels. So that’s a six to eight thousand times return on our single kernel of corn.
And no management involved.
Oh, you might say, without farm machinery, pesticides, and scientific farming methods bugs might eat half of those kernels. Maybe the return on our single kernel is only two to four thousand times. That’s not even annualized, but you can’t grow corn all year long in most places.
I hope you see my point. Look where you will in nature and you will never find a manager, ever, anywhere. And nature finds ways to fill every conceivable ecological niche with abundant life.
Fortunately, this phenomenon is not lost on science, and since the sixties, scientists have been looking at natural systems and processes, even chaotic systems. They have discovered the underlying principles by which nature works.
Think about the magic of how huge schools of fish or clouds of birds demonstrate astonishing shoaling and flocking behavior. No one is telling them what to do. The principle is self-organization. This is why there are no managers in nature.
And, self-organization can be applied to your company as well. The hardest part is unlearning everything you have been taught about management.
The good news is that organizational culture and behavior are shaped by the systems and processes institutionalized in the company, that either have evolved organically, or been consciously designed and implemented.
Change the systems and processes, and you will cause new behavior to emerge. Build the right set of systems and processes, and you will create space for your employees to deliver their best and most creative service to your company.
Will all employees respond positively to this kind or change? Definitely not. But when you change the systems, your employees will adapt. They they will either adapt in or adapt out.
If they adapt out, all that means is that you have the opportunity to attract new talent with the story that you are reinventing your company to create space for your employees to expand into, and that will definitely get the attention of the kind of people you want.
And yes, it takes some time to fully implement new systems and processes and for your employees to adapt to a different culture. But when the dust settles, you’ll have very little to do, and can redirect your work efforts to higher, more strategic and greater visibility roles.
This isn’t wishful thinking. It’s all backed by hard science.
Come join the 21st century. Be a hero for your employees. i’ve spent decades perfecting this process. Learn all about it in my free e-book, The End of Management. Get your copy at https://lannygoodman.com.
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