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The Consumerization of Management, Part 2

by Mark P. McDonald  |  June 24, 2012  |  1 Comment

A prior post, describes the forces shaping the consumerization of management and driving a connected, open, information and innovation intensive workplace.  Those qualities go beyond traditional management with its focus on control, predictability, process and efficiency.    The figure below compares corporate and consumerized management.


Consumerization re-imagines the characteristics of management

Consumerizing management describes a set of re-imagined practices, approaches and values that recognize the changing environment in which organizations and individuals achieve results.   This management discipline that is:

  • Distributed as a network of personal commitments augment the formal hierarchy with network of personal commitments based on shared purposes and problems.  Creating open collaborative communities is a practice for drawing people together in ways that unlock their experience and knowledge.
  • Results-based focus with an emphasis on formulating strategies and organizing resources that achieve valued outcomes. Issuing a challenge or holding a contest are common practices to shift the focus to results rather than resources.
  • Decision intensive as there are no clear, prescribed answers and proscriptive processes will not suffice.  If the issue were simple, then it would be resolved by traditional means.  Creating situational transparency and facilitating discussion and selection of options are sample practices in this area.
  • Operationally oriented on forward-looking operational metrics rather than backward looking financial metrics.  Staying real rather than academic is the challenge.  Real means focusing the specific actions, changes and resources required to move the organization forward.

These characteristics describe a form less prescriptive, more participating and more engaging style of work.  Leaders who value results have these characteristics. They embody the fundamental connection between management and leadership.

Consumerizing management in your organization

Given the dynamic and driving nature of the challenges we all face organizations need consumerized leader/managers more than ever.  Building consumerized management in your organizations starts with identifying these leader/managers in your current organization. Each of us can identify the ‘go to’ people in your organization.  They form the cadre of leaders who get things down despite the formal hierarchy.  Leaders managers are catalysts for building capability in others and in themselves.   We know who they are and we all know that we need more of them.

Leader/managers know that the best talent in the organization consumes opportunity by exercising their choice in whom they work with and what they work on.  Leader/managers practice management consumerism when they attract talent and attention based on the projects they work on, the people they assemble and what those people learn as part of the process.

People volunteer their knowledge and energy knowing it will be put to good use. Leader/manager recognize and acknowledge their teams.  They know value time and attention, paying for it with opportunities to grow, build new skills and gain new exposure in the organization.

Traditional managers rarely like a leader/manager.  Traditional managers are tied up in accretive change that drives complexity and fuels their role as those in the know.  Remember the names of the people who grumble about the people who do not honor the hierarchy and you will find potential leader/managers.  While they are not liked, effective leader/managers are always respected and often feared.

Building consumerized management

Your organizations need people who can inspire others, enlist them in new challenges and engage the entire organization to create results.  Building consumerized management capabilities is a recursive process as the people who participate in consumerized teams grow to become consumerized managers in their own right.   This requires a degree of organizational maturity to see the value of creating results by working across formal hierarchies and recognizing the inevitable friction and occasional failures as investments in future capability and skill.   Your most valuable resources is the high performer who has just owned up to and learned from a mistake.

Building consumerized leader/managers requires going beyond the things you can learn from reading a book or following a prescriptive HR strategy.   Building leader/managers requires creating experiences, coaching and setting expectations and working together for shared success.  Not everyone will make it, and that is ok because there are different types of management required in the organization and each is equally valuable.  Placing consumerized management in the context of these other types of management is the focus of the next post.

Building leader/managers requires good people.  Organizations with bad management must fix that problem first as leapfrogging to consumerization is not the answer.  People who lack the maturity, skill, confidence or inclination to manage in the traditional sense will not suddenly blossom in a consumer environment.  Your organization has bad management for one of two reasons.  Either you have the wrong people in management roles, or you have the wrong job description as you have administrators not managers.

We are all consumers of good management

The future of management is the future of human accomplishment and a central challenge we all face.  The consumerization of management offers one description of the type of management required to create a dynamic, demanding and achievement driven organization.  It is not the only description available, nor a complete answer.

That future builds upon, evolves, and innovates the nature of human organizations and human interaction.  The nature of human accomplishment, interaction and organization is diverse and dynamic.  Any discussion of the future of management must account for and incorporate current practices and processes that are the basis for what we have accomplished as each is critical to what we can accomplish in the future.  That is the subject of the next post.

We are all the consumers of good management and as consumers our thoughts, values, ideas and insights matter.  We shape the future of good management by what we desire, where we dedicate our time and talent, how we see ourselves in relations to each other and the organization.   Please join the conversation, either by commenting to this blog post or participating in the Management Innovation Xchange.

Related Posts:

Consumerization of Management Part 1

The Silent Crisis

The Silent Crisis – when good people play the wrong role

Signs of Weak Management  – post that connects with 12 specific signs of weak management

Comprehensive value defines broader goals for organizational leadership and management

Category: innovation  leadership  management  

Tags: business-leadership  business-management  consumerization  leadership  management  

Mark P. McDonald
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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