Even today, Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Little Tramp’ feeding a giant machine on an accelerating assembly line remains the classic image of a savage and industrialised world. Modern Times exposed the obsession of early twentieth century Taylorists and ‘scientific managers’ with achieving maximum efficiency in the workplace.
Organisations grew in size and complexity during the twentieth century. Management 1.0 progressively took control. Empowered business executives and top managers laid down their directives from above. Bureaucracy extended its net.
Those rigid structures have become obsolete in our superfast, ever-changing age. Worldwide and across industries, some intrepid managers and leaders are turning the hierarchical management pyramid upside down to lay the foundations for Management 2.0.
The evolution of management
Within this new revolution, what roles remain for managers and executives? To create organisations fit for the future, managers must focus on:
- Creating an environment and culture where everyone is incentivised to contribute and shape the future of their company;
- Enabling everyone with tools, processes and technologies, so they can contribute effectively;
- Provoking their organisation with meaningful challenges.
In this sense, you have to look for new ways to unveil fresh answers, set and reach specific goals and engage and motivate workers with your business challenges. Innovation without results is useless.
Finding the silver bullets
In May 1968, the American nuclear submarine USS Scorpion vanished in the waters of the Atlantic. No one knew what had happened after it lost radio contact. It could be anywhere within a 20-mile radius (32 km) and deep down. Finding it was a colossal mission.
John Craven, the Chief Scientist of the US Navy’s Special Projects Division, was called in to help. He had a bold plan.
Craven assembled a team of specialists from very different backgrounds. Mathematicians and salvage and submarine experts received all the (scarce) data available and, individually, offered their informed opinions on possible scenarios and location sites. Gathering all their input, he next did a probability analysis to define a collective guess.
After five months of frustrated attempts, the Navy sent a ship, following Craven’s estimates. The outcome amazed everyone: The Scorpion was finally discovered only 220 yards (200 m) from were Craven’s calculations said it would be.
The collective guess was entirely different from any of the experts’ estimates. However, as a ‘crowd’, they were much more accurate in identifying the needle in the haystack.
The same applies to your company: new answers can be found when you harness the collective intelligence of your people. It is time for you, as a manager, to unleash their hidden potential and find the silver bullets that will make your business differentiate and grow.