Moon Shots

A global community of management renegades

Ok, maybe we could do with forgetting the idea of reinventing management. I think the truth is already out there but might need us to pay more attention.

Not altogether sure that we should be expecting a rediscovery to come from a predominantly white, male, american group of professors, many of whom have been highly paid consultants within a broken system for a long time already. That's a sweeping generalistion about them, but I thought I'd get if off my chest.

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Steady on, Johnnie!

I accept that the renegade brigade consisted mainly of affluent white American men. But look at their contributions to the field:

Chris Argyris
- Espoused theory versus theory-in-use
- Learning organisations
- Double-loop learning

Henry Mintzberg
- Emergent strategy making

IDEO
- I don't know anything about Tim Brown, but I'm an admirer of David Kelly
- Human-centred design
- Early rapid prototyping

Kevin Kelly
- Wired has been hugely influential

Peter Senge
- Popularised the concepts of organisational learning, mental models and systems thinking (a shame the chosen flavour of systems thinking was system dynamics though - very MIT)

Gary Hamel
- Passionate advocate of insurgency, and the breaking of orthodoxies
- Experimental approach to innovation
- Was instrumental in the widespread adoption of GameChanger across Shell's businesses

The renegades have done their work. The agenda is set. Sure, it's probably not the one that you or I would have created. No matter. It exists. It's in HBR. We're here discussing it. So let's get on with it!
Some of these people have done good stuff. I'm a big fan of Keith Sawyer. On the other hand, Gary Hamel wrote great chucks about what an awesome company Enron was.

I would have welcomed some humility from these people, some acknowledgement that they may themselves be connected to the problem as well as searching for the solution.

And for me, part of the problem is how management has been turned into some high-powered, very intellectual, very clever game of abstractions done in rareified environments by special people. This idea of "reinventing" management seems to be part of that paradigm: clever people need to rethink this.
The people are the asset for the change and we are very well a part of them.

Listen to the people around you in your family, on the bus, in the shop, at work,
during holidays, ...about what they are talking, what their thoughts are. All
human activity is initiated by means of communication (mainly talking).

The patterns seem often to be different from private to work environment and
yet your family is pretty much a power system (of some kind) as your work
group (put around or below your boss).

Reinventing is not necessary, we just should adapt what is working in other living
systems (that are a bit smaller and closer to our hearts) into the "outer" world.

Cheers,

Ralf
Hi Mary,

You are right about your observations. Let's engage more women here to take active part of the communication to level the ratio.

Best regards

Ralf

Mary Stacey said:
I was struck by the 5:1 male to female ratio and emailed Gary Hamel to inquire......Can this way of convening hold in 2009? In the 21st Century? Where will the Moon Shots land after stopping by this diverse and global environment?!
In view of the insightful comments here, let's reinvent the strapline of this website. Any ideas?
Johnnie hi,

I don't disagree with you but let me get this straight, we are talking about crossing a road, aren't we, so a bridging language that connects where things have been with where things are going seems necessary to me - not the same as before and not completely different either, that is if we want to get some seamlessness into the equation.

Personally I think there's too much equity within the intangible assets of many organizations created in the old management paradigm not to try to retain them and this makes complete reinvention unwarranted. Can we be more emotionally intelligent than going through the old hoops of revolution time and time again? I think so. That translates as renegades, yes, and translators. My preference is to support adaptation as a real goal to aim for as Ralf suggests.

A large dose of corporate therapy's needed that can encourage the shedding of old constructs no longer necessary, as well as some sharp edged smarts that can build a convincing case for change. This will take hard and soft skills, points of familiarity as well as the shock and allure of the new.

Mary and Ralf, hello. I'm happy to be sufficiently left-field by virtue of being female to help the cause and look forward to engaging with you on this.
In the last few years, I have seen small, self organising teams coming together to work on projects. The strucutre of those teams will depend on the nature of the project, but within the teams every one is equal. If the project takes off, and becomes a viable long terms business, then management can become an issue, unless one of the original team members has an innate leadership skill or an outside manager is brought in. This vstructure is very different from the structures of corporations in the past, where there was a more definite hierarchy.
So companies today are forme and run in a new way; surely that means that the requirements of managers are going to change, and so all the theories regarding management taught in MBA courses will need to be adapted (note that I'm not sayimg you need to chuck anything out - merely to adapt what is there).
Hello Anne,

Perhaps we just don't need the big effort, just the RIGHT effort (when we see the sufficient crack or leverage point to intervene).

Going with the flow (respectively wind) is best when trying to achieve great thing - has been at least my experience;-))

Start small through conversations first, getting a deeper sense of what people are thinking. Not easy to do, no quick shot and the top folks most probably are the last ones to join in. How about the other myriads of folks who got the idea and feel "powerless"?

Cheers,

Ralf

Anne McCrossan said:
Johnnie hi,

A large dose of corporate therapy's needed that can encourage the shedding of old constructs no longer necessary, as well as some sharp edged smarts that can build a convincing case for change. This will take hard and soft skills, points of familiarity as well as the shock and allure of the new.
Ralf, i am totally on your track: "Start small through conversations first, getting a deeper sense of what people are thinking". this is also my experience. Far away from managing change and so on. My motto: first try to understand - then try to be understood...
My feeling as an erstwhile management consultant is that what we don't need is to add more to the tottering pyramid of management theories (and training industry) based on a narrow "western" (and I suppose capitalist) view of what it takes to manage effectively.

[I liked the "conversations in the bus" comment earlier]
Hello Joanna,

Which kind of what do we need instead? New game? New language (I always struggle with engineers, as an economist and systems thinker)?

Best regards

Ralf

PS.: Could you please say a few words on erstwhile management consultant as that is unfamiliar to me.

joanna howard said:
My feeling as an erstwhile management consultant is that what we don't need is to add more to the tottering pyramid of management theories (and training industry)
"erstwhile management consultant" simply means someone who used to be a management consultant.

See Dictionary.com definition of erstwhile

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