The Moon Shots

Emboldened by these thoughts, our renegade brigade of academics, CEOs, consultants, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists asked themselves: What needs to be done to create organizations that are truly fit for the future? What should be the critical priorities for tomorrow’s management pioneers? The 25 moon shots that emerged are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive. The current management model is an integrated whole that can’t be easily broken into pieces. That’s why many of the challenges overlap. However, each moon shot illuminates a critical path in the journey to Management 2.0. There was general agreement that the first 10 are the most critical.

Ensure that the work of management serves a higher purpose.

Most companies strive to maximize shareholder wealth—a goal that is inadequate in many respects. As an emotional catalyst, wealth maximization lacks the power to fully mobilize human energies. It’s an insufficient defense when people question the legitimacy of corporate power. And it’s not specific or compelling enough to spur renewal. For these reasons, tomorrow’s management practices must focus on the achievement of socially significant and noble goals.

Fully embed the ideas of community and citizenship in management systems.

In tomorrow’s interdependent world, highly collaborative systems will outperform organizations characterized by adversarial win-lose relationships. Yet today, corporate governance structures often exacerbate conflict by promoting the interests of some groups—like senior executives and the providers of capital—at the expense of others—usually employees and local communities. In the future, management systems must reflect the ethos of community and citizenship, thereby recognizing the interdependence of all stakeholder groups.

Reconstruct management’s philosophical foundations.

Tomorrow’s organizations must be adaptable, innovative, inspiring, and socially responsible, as well as operationally excellent. To imbue organizations with these attributes, scholars and practitioners must rebuild management’s underpinnings. That will require hunting for new principles in fields as diverse as anthropology, biology, design, political science, urban planning, and theology.

Eliminate the pathologies of formal hierarchy.

While hierarchy will always be a feature of human organization, there’s a pressing need to limit the fallout from top-down authority structures. Typical problems include overweighting experience at the expense of new thinking, giving followers little or no influence in choosing their leaders, perpetuating disparities in power that can’t be justified by differences in competence, creating incentives for managers to hoard authority when it should be distributed, and undermining the self-worth of individuals who have little formal power. To overcome these failings, the traditional organizational pyramid must be replaced by a “natural” hierarchy, where status and influence correspond to contribution rather than position. Hierarchies need to be dynamic, so that power flows rapidly toward those who are adding value and away from those who aren’t. Finally, instead of a single hierarchy, there must be many hierarchies, each a barometer of expertise in some critical arena.

Reduce fear and increase trust.

Command-and-control systems reflect a deep mistrust of employees’ commitment and competence. They also tend to overemphasize sanctions as a way of forcing compliance. That’s why so many organizations are filled with anxious employees who are hesitant to take the initiative or trust their own judgment. Organizational adaptability, innovation, and employee engagement can only thrive in a high-trust, low-fear culture. In such an environment, information is widely shared, contentious opinions are freely expressed, and risk taking is encouraged. Mistrust demoralizes and fear paralyzes, so they must be wrung out of tomorrow’s management systems.

Reinvent the means of control.

Traditional control systems ensure high levels of compliance but do so at the expense of employee creativity, entrepreneurship, and engagement. To overcome the discipline-versus-innovation trade-off, tomorrow’s control systems will need to rely more on peer review and less on top-down supervision. They must leverage the power of shared values and aspirations while loosening the straitjacket of rules and strictures. The goal: organizations filled with employees who are capable of self-discipline.

Redefine the work of leadership.

Natural hierarchies require natural leaders—that is, individuals who can mobilize others despite a lack of formal authority. In Management 2.0, leaders will no longer be seen as grand visionaries, all-wise decision makers, and ironfisted disciplinarians. Instead, they will need to become social architects, constitution writers, and entrepreneurs of meaning. In this new model, the leader’s job is to create an environment where every employee has the chance to collaborate, innovate, and excel.

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