Sunday, March 20, 2011

The End of Management...Long Live Management!

That was the title of a very enlightening article from the Wall Street Journal on what management has been, where management is, and more importantly...where management will evolve to in the future. The article titles "The End of Management" details the world we find ourselves in now. Corporations and managers created value and organized resources around the most important activities. In many ways, management thoughts and practices served their purpose greatly to drive organizations to achieve. Then this little thing called the Internet occurred and concepts of management started to change immediately. Now management is not a top-down driven activity, but a multi-directional ability to change organizations and enable tapping into the strengths and dreams of the entire organization to achieve new goals.

This is important as the article points out because management now is seen as bureaucratic and something that impedes progress, innovation and creativity because in many respects management seeks to self-perpetuate itself. In our minds, you need managers to control, micromanage, keep workers in line and focused on work (because they are obviously not smart enough to just take direction), and avoid risk. But in a world that is Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (The VUCA World)...we have to learn to adapt faster than the world under these VUCA conditions. That specifically requires a new management model or models and a distinctly different leadership style than what we have today.

Which brings me to the real gist of this blog this week...How as Human Capital Managers (HCM) do we create people with the right skills and knowledge to leverage and thrive in this new golden age of leadership?

First, you have to understand the environment, conditions and challenges that organizations and leadership will face in the future. That will be primarily one of speed. Those organizations and leaders that can learn faster than their competition will be Kings and Queens of this new environment. Learning agility will dictate how quickly a leader can adjust to VUCA conditions, mobilize their people resources, and create competitive advantage in micro-periods of time that might be measured in weeks or months.

Second, understanding this now allows you to determine the right set of competencies to create within leaders to create the right conditions to evolve management and leadership. In the Lominger competency model, a set of competencies known as "The Big Eight" are an excellent starting point. These eight are considered critical to individual performance, but in short supply. They are in no particular order...

1. Dealing with Ambiguity
2. Creativity
3. Innovation Management
4. Motivating Others
5. Planning
6. Strategic Agility
7. Building Effective Teams
8. Managing Vision and Purpose

Consider these the building blocks of great leaders and by default great organizations.

Finally, it is not enough to create the individual and organizational capabilities to create great leadership...the organizations needs to experiment and innovate the function of management internally. Enter Gary Hamel and the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX). Gary Hamel has been solely focused on what types of management models will be created and needed to enable the future of the profession. Taking a a similar approach with our leaders and organizations in order to continue to evolve, as HCM leaders we should identify champions and lead innovative management and leadership efforts. Take what we learn and apply it across larger parts of the organization in order to enable competitive advantage and the learning agility that we will need in the future.

In these challenging times, we need to keep our eyes on the opportunities to help the people and our organizations be successful. Understanding that the old principles of management will not enable this future success are critical. Understanding the role that we have to enable this future a no brainer!


J. Keith Dunbar is a Fearless Transformational Global Leader...Creator of Talent, Leadership Capability, and Culture Change…He can be found connecting and sharing knowledge on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Twitter: JKeithDunbar
DNA of Human Capital:

The opinions or views expressed here are mine alone and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the Defense Intelligence Agency.


  1. Great post Keith.

    I love the new found emphasis in the workplace on competencies as a tool to define leadership.

    Your comment of needing to "understand the environment, conditions and challenges" is the hidden gem here. No "off the shelf" list will fit unless your insights into the environment, conditions and challenges are considered and factored in.

  2. Keith ... enjoyed reading your post, as well as the article "The End of Management". I couldn't help but think about the differences between managing and leading people. I certainly do not now, nor have I every enjoyed being managed. Rather, my motivation, creativity, and contribution has always been highest while performing under great leadership.

    May I be so bold as to suggest 'Trust' as the starting point to the 'Big Eight'. Trust trumps all other enablers in the Strategic Leadership of Human Capital (SLHC). Trust strengthens the connection felt, creating a competency-multiplier between the seasoned leader and their charge.

    In the absence of trust, the boss is but a manager with positional authority. Trust however, elevates a manager to the position of a leader. With trust the team benefits, the organization benefits, and all customers benefit. Count on it! Aloha!

  3. Dear Anonymous...

    First...I feel like Dear Abby now...Thank you for that experience. are absolutely correct. Trust makes the organization and team engine matter whether you are good or great at these Big 8.

    I also see a distinct difference between leadership and management as you suggest. While I think leaders can become good is hard for managers to become good leaders. For that discussion you should read my blog post..."Is Your Boss Your Leader?" It gets more in depth on that issue.

    Thanks for the comments...