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The issue of managers managing


July 14

Femke Storm

We can't plan, control or decide with certainty what will happen in the future. We live in a fast-paced world where planning means being too late, and managers managing holds back the innovation and creativity we need to not be 'too late'.

Al teams we meet in our Lab Rooms come with their own business challenges to solve, ideas to bring to life or projects to kick start or -finish. Every one is unique; every Lab Room is different. However, when we zoom out, there are some similarities to find too. One of them is the shift they seek in "management" to achieve the desired outcome of most projects, strategies or innovation plans. Management as "the process of dealing with or controlling things or people" as we inherited from the industrial era, has outlived its usefulness. 

The impact of the industrial era

The effects of this industrial era can still be felt daily. Ever realised that our experiences of working life in the 21st century - swarmed urban areas, machine-driven manufacturing plants, regular 9 to 5 office hours, daily rush hour - have their foundations set in the radical changes of the Industrial Revolution? It was this revolution that disrupted daily life by replacing the rhythm of the seasons by the ring of the factory bell. The most successful business strategies since, where calculated plans that had to be executed. The role created to do so effectively: the manager, the key player in the process of achieving goals. 

Today's challenging (business) world needs entrepreneurship

In today's challenging and uncertain environment full of volatility, complexity, and ambiguity, planning and controlling is a strategy that no longer holds. Current leaders have to deal with continuously changing challenges brought on by politics, economics, society and the world around them. The young, tech-driven businesses we meet, are the first to fully admit to the fact that the ideas of incremental innovation, continuous improvement, and process optimisations are simply not sufficient anymore. Procedures that are still necessary, but insufficient. For sustainable success teams and businesses need entrepreneurship. Large organisations need to embrace and enhance the "corporate entrepreneurial spirit" of talented employees – have them create new concepts and ideas from within the organisation.  

Management give up control 

The era of management is not over (yet). Successful leaders embrace the change in the way they lead organisations and teams. This change revolves mostly around (their) management giving up control. Giving up control and adopting a new approach: no longer built on problem-solving and secure planning to reduce uncertainty but based on actively engaging with uncertainty. Actively engaging with uncertainty requires a whole different level of leadership agility and above all: trust. First steps towards this new way of working together are getting the right people in the room (and don't be afraid to exclude everyone not needed in the process), create alignment and ownership between them and just get started!