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The Paradigm for Effective Management: Handling The Manager’s Paradox

October 22, 2013

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For well over a hundred years, managers and workers have thought the best way to organize the work of large numbers of people is to build top-down hierarchies to result in effective management. Until recently however, hierarchical organization charts have been the one thing that all companies had in common. Thanks to the proliferation of the Internet, people began to discover new ways of working together by doing something that was never possible before: self-organizing their own work. Up until this time, it was thought that large numbers of people could not effectively coordinate their activities unless there was someone in charge. Wikipedia and Linux  proved that self-organized online networks are capable of working smarter, faster, and cheaper than their bureaucratic counterparts.

A Look Into The Paradigm for Effective Management

Today’s technology clearly favors networks over hierarchies. That’s why the fundamental paradigm for effective management has already begun an inevitable shift from top-down organization charts to peer-to-peer networks. Going forward, companies are more likely to look like Google than General Motors.

Whenever dramatic change like this happens, there is a period of time when both the fading and the emerging world-views coexist. Coexistence is rarely smooth because large-scale paradigm shifts, by their nature, are highly disruptive. Right now there is a unique and unprecedented challenge for many managers because they suddenly find themselves caught between two worlds. On the one hand, because they work closely with younger workers who are fully versed in digital technology and its new ways of thinking and acting, managers intuitively grasp—even though they may not fully understand—that the world is rapidly changing. On the other hand, these managers must continue to please the corps of senior executives who remain fully invested in the old ways of a fading paradigm.

Coping With These Challenges

According to a recent study by CEO.com http://tinyurl.com/kpxocz5 , only 32 percent of top CEOs have at least one social network account. This means that two out of every three CEOs have no social media presence and are essentially clueless about the dynamics of the most significant economic transformation since the industrial revolution. Bridging the paradoxical gap between these digital strangers and a growing workforce of digital natives is the single most important management task for today’s middle managers. The successful managers are those who resolve this paradox by skillfully learning how to navigate the digital divide.

Until business leaders come to terms with the reality that networks really are smarter and faster than hierarchies, managers who understand the paradigm shift have to find ways to cope. One way to bridge the digital divide is for middle managers to build their own internal networks and involve younger workers in discovering new ways to achieve better business results.  Building politically acceptable networks, where possible, inside traditional companies is a useful strategy provided these internal networks can clearly create better results. Senior leaders tolerate  behavior that produces results. They’ll tolerate new—even “weird” ways—of managing from managers who learn how to leverage networks to create extraordinary performance and institute a structured strategy for effective management.

Wiki Management: A Revolutionary New Model for a Rapidly Changing and Collaborative World  http://www.amacombooks.org/author.cfm?AuthorID=1003752

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About The Author

ROD COLLINS is the Director of Innovation at Optimity Advisors, a national management consulting firm, and a leading expert on the next generation of business management. He is also the author of Wiki Management: A Revolutionary New Model for a Rapidly Changing and collaborative World.

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