Management as “opportunity to help people become better”

Clayton Christensen Wants to Transform Capitalism | Wired Business |

Clayton Christensen first came to industry/national notoriety though his observations about why smart, successful businesses fail.  He saw a pattern of current, successful product lines (or services, but usually products) being usurped by competitors – some of whom had not even been on the radar prior to their disruptively innovative entry into the market.  So, as Andy Grove adopted for Intel (with the Celeron) as a response to competition for a less-expensive version of their successful microprocessors by AMD and Cyrix, companies have been encouraged to disrupt their own successful product or service by anticipating customer needs and even cannibalizing some of their own market share with the new product or service. (See, The Innovator’s Dilemma).

constructive conversation

Ten years later, Christensen now is challenging – as WE are – the value of 20th century management practices in the 21st century.  “Management,” he says in the recent interview with WIRED, “is the opportunity to help people become better people.  Practiced that way, it’s a magnificent profession.”

Hierarchical management structures, with only the tools of “carrots and sticks” to promote what Ordway Tead (1935) cited as the Art of Leadership – “to get people to do what they ordinarily do not want to do” – is not only passé, but inhibits effectiveness, innovation, and employee retention.  Conversations based on the alignment and further development of individual strengths are essential to the new management.  To do that, workers and managers need the insight into their capabilities using a reliable and consistent vocabulary, and training and coaching on how to have those constructive, meaningful conversations.

What do you think?  Disruptive enough?

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2 thoughts on “Management as “opportunity to help people become better”

  1. I think that you are correct. Having a background in European management/leadership I will add that Europe has adopted this philosophy faster and better than here in the US. The reason is that European employers had to forget the ‘stick’, as powerful trade unions with a deep political affiliation eliminated most of the force of that ‘stick’.
    I am old enough that I had contact with Intel in the seventies. At that time Intel was a very dynamic company with early adoption of modern management. I think that the root of the problem lies in that as organizations grow – they have a tendency to require more rules and policies. Those rules are made to prevent a few misbehaving employees to act with other objectives than what they are paid for. At the same time those rules kills the initiative. The result is a very blend – mediocre – workforce. The outcome of that is of course that new more positive companies can and will produce better widgets.

  2. InfamousL4 says:

    Well put, Lennart. Thank you for the European perspective.

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