The classical tenets of Management were developed at the time of Industrial revolution. The leading management Guru was Taylor who led thinking on how to increase efficiency, reduce wastefulness and improve profits. Taylor developed what is now called scientific management. The management style broke down work into small pieces that could be performed by an individual. Hence the individual loses his sense of ownership as his work is a small cog of the wheel. Pride of building a house was replaced with mundanity of layering bricks. The system also required a close watch on workers and led to hierarchy of supervisors whose main responsibility was to monitor others. The classical function of management was described as “Planning, Resource Allocation, Monitoring and Control”.
In the last one hundred and fifty years, the world has changed tremendously. Today with information technology the work has become more complex and inter-dependant. The work is becoming more knowledge based and hence humans now have to be motivated to create and produce unlike 1800s when they had to drive machines. Development of intelligent machines would add more complexity to our roles.
So the challenge before managements in future would be
- How to develop workplaces and design motivational schemes so as to acknowledge and fulfill need for self-actualization by knowledge workers. Get knowledge workers to share their knowledge, cooperate and collaborate with each other.
- Develop control systems that are effective yet allow senior management to devolve decision making to the operational teams.
This would be possible with learning organizations. Organizations that would be able to respond to changes in the environment and adapt. My experience with diverse organizations has made me believe that democracy is a pre-requisite to a Learning Organization and teams are essential to democracy.
Team based structure would allow organizations to be nimble and respond to tactical opportunities available in the field. (https://rajneeshrastogi.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/what-corporate-managers-can-learn-from-football-teams/). Peer based control systems would ensure that all the members of the team conform to the norms. Consensus based decision making process would also ensure that the teams take optimal decisions. Structuring team based networked organizations has been possible and one of the most notable examples has been US Army operations in Iraq (https://rajneeshrastogi.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/building-football-teams-at-work/).
Some of the challenges that I foresee in developing empowered teams are 1) Developing leadership in teams and 2) Developing good sub-cultures within the team. These challenges also define role and functions of Management or Board, that is, to ensure that all the teams understand the purpose and their role in achieving it, hold people accountable to maintain culture of the organization. The responsibility of the team to have adequate resources and developing a plan can be delegated to the team. Would it take a big load off shoulders of management?