As regular readers of this blog will know, I believe that many of the tools and methods we use to manage people at work are ill-suited to the challenges of succeeding in today’s “creative economy.” All too often, legacy management practices reflexively perpetuate the past—by over-weighting the views of long-tenured executives, by valuing conformance more highly than creativity and by turning tired industry nostrums into sacred truths.
Fair enough, you might say. Everybody knows there are downsides to management-as-usual, but are they any alternatives? We can dream about organizations where employees eagerly challenge their superiors, where honesty trumps deference and where the pyramid has been turned upside down—but then again, we can also dream about world peace and cold fusion. That doesn’t mean they’re achievable.
This sort of skepticism is understandable. After all, the technology of management varies little from firm to firm. Given that, it is easy, and rational, to assume that the management status quo is also the status optimus—that while there may be other ways of planning, coordinating and controlling, there aren’t any better ways—at least not for organizations that must contend with demanding investors and customers.
Nevertheless, before surrendering to this premise, we should remind ourselves that dogma often masquerades as truth, and that we are often comforted by the deception. There are many who would prefer a lazy ramble along the gentle contours of the tried-and-true then a hard scramble up the rocky incline of the untested and unproven.
Vineet Nayar, however, is a scrambler, and since taking on the top job at HCL Technologies (HCLT) in 2005, he’s been working to foment a genuine revolution in its management practices. (A note: HCL Technologies is also a founding sponsor of the Management Exchange, a new initiative which I’m helping to lead.) Read the rest of this entry »