The Future Will Look and Feel Different

I suppose that sounds obvious, but when I talk to people about changing the way they lead and manage organizations, I’m not so sure it’s that obvious. Instead, there seems to be a default assumption that in the future, management will look roughly like it does today, except that somehow it will be better and people won’t be so unhappy in organizations. If I present an idea that is substantially different than today’s practice, it is almost always met with doubt and suspicion.

This is holding us back. I’m not sure how we got to this place, where it is literally difficult for us to imagine a management that is different from what we already know. But it’s a real problem.

I got excited reading Gary Hamel’s cover article in HBR this month. He has an awesome case study of an organization that literally operates without a centralized cadre of managers to run things. I strongly encourage you to read it. It might hurt your brain, but that’s a good thing.

I know that if you look at the history of management, you don’t see much innovation. We ARE doing things roughly the same way we were doing them back in the 1950s, it turns out. But we are not confined to that fate moving forward. In fact, I think we are at a critical juncture where we MUST choose to change management in a significant way.

But that requires that we accept, as a given, that things will never be the same. I think that’s the jumping off point.