Despite the talk that tech advances will bring an age of management utopia, traditional corporate juggernauts do not change overnight.
By Julian Birkinshaw, contributor
(ManagementInnovationeXchange) -- When it comes to the future of management, there's a problem with all this talk of virtual and networked organizations, and this vision of empowered and engaged employees. We see the massive changes underway in technology and connectivity, and we assume that these changes will drive change in how we work. The trouble is, previous generations went through the same process.
In the late 1990s, commentators talked about the emergence of the ICE age, where ICE was an acronym for "the Internet Changes Everything." In the early 1980s, the business world was abuzz with talk of employee empowerment, and with the idea that computers would herald the end of middle management. Go back further still, to the 1960s or 1930s, and it's the same story -- the bad-old, machine-like organizations of the past were being overthrown and replaced with enlightened and humane companies that put their employees first.
So there is an enduring puzzle that we need to come to grips with. Every generation predicts that the nature of management is changing before our eyes, and that the future will be more democratic, flat and employee-centric. Every generation has evidence that the emerging model is better. But while some things do indeed change (for example, the use of IT systems for managing our business process, the off-shoring and outsourcing of work, the cycle-time for new product development), the vast majority of management work -- by which I mean how we motivate people, make decisions, set objectives and allocate resources -- seems almost impervious to change. More
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