Management is in the midst of change.
A couple of years ago, Forbes started dropping a particular term to describe the phenomenal change presently underway in the world of business, dubbed “the Management revolution.” This revolution is not unlike those most famous historical revolutions of the late-18th century, albeit the current revolution is somewhat less bloody. Like those revolutions though, the current Management revolution is about democracy, only not of countries, but of organizational structure in business instead.
How does this Management revolution affect all you dear Quote Rollers out there? More importantly, what does it mean for your business proposals? Whether your business is large or small, corporate or just you, freelance, the Management revolution surely affects it. Maybe you are a small business, operating in a more streamlined, profitable way than the big competitors, or maybe yours a complex company in need of an internal restructuring. Maybe there are opportunities to seize out there somewhere.
What does this revolution have to offer you?
To understand that, you first need to know what has changed. Taking a nod from the fabulous folks at Forbes, we aim to help you navigate the management revolution and profit from it, no matter how big (or small) your business.
Here are some pointers on the management revolution.
The 20th century is over (finally)
The first decade of any century carries with it some residuals from the preceding century. Understandably, the first decade (or so) of the 21st century keep “business as usual” in accordance with the norms of the last century.
Here we are in 2014 – almost at the halfway mark of the second decade of the 21st century. Businesses are shaking off the old ways of doing things. For years, management was accustomed to “coping” with the competition, establishing hierarchical roles, and putting in place daunting rules.
That, however, does not work in a Web 2.0 world, where information flows freely and, as a result, workers feel liberated and autonomous. The smart money is on democratization. In addition, some of the world’s biggest companies are embracing the Management revolution.
Apple created its own ecosystem for the iPhone, allowing developers to create anything they could imagine (and anything consumers could want to purchase). Breaking with Steve Jobs’ notorious commanding style, that act of democratization has been one of Apple’s best plays to date. Note that Apple did not make their ecosystem closed; it is wide open, offering developers great liberty. Google, another certifiably massive company at this point, has taken the approach of urging managers to “leave people alone,” while instructing them on how to do that.
What those companies and many other leading organizations have in common is that they are opting to have managers focus on core aspects of the business, as opposed to its mechanics. That is the essence of the Management revolution.
What is important in your business?
Say you manage a team of graphic designers. You have an operating budget. You have designers. What do you do on a daily basis? Do you evaluate graphic designs? Do you maintain the graphic design department’s blog?
The graphic designs are the core of the business, from your perspective. You may work in a company with various departments all around, above, and below you on the proverbial totem pole, but your main function has only to do with overseeing the creation of graphic designs that meet with the companies needs and ensure its sustainability.
Australian business expert, Pete Williams, defines important management functions as “core” tasks, which stand in contrast to the less important “mechanics” of your business. Williams says that core is something especially important to you as a manager, because it encompasses the tasks in your company that only you can do, and helps you focus on those things.
Williams is right, if you think about it. What separates leadership from worker is the ability to make decisions that affect the bottom line. Someone has to be thinking about profit, and managers need to have the freedom and versatility to be able to do just that, without worrying about tasks better done by someone other than you, in particular.
Going back to our hypothetical scenario, so why are you futzing around with blog posts? They are a part of the “mechanics” of the business. The thing to do here is post an ad in online freelance marketplace, wade through some business proposals, and hire a freelance blogger. After all, you do have a budget. This allows you to go back to working on the important aspects of your job.
The example carries over to all sorts of things. Are you an inventory manager? Why are you wasting time filling out human resources paperwork if that is not the core of your role? Are you a marketing director? Why are you trying to make a graphic design? Call the graphic design manager!
Modern management is all about narrowing your focus to what really matters.
The globalization game-changer
In the 20th century (and carrying over into the past decade), we heard a lot about sending jobs “offshore.” This practice was once a spurious subject of debate, especially with regard to major corporations who closed down domestic manufacturing operations, and sent the jobs to developing countries where labor is less expensive.
However, the Internet has shaken things up drastically. We know live in an era of a global economy and workforce. The Internet has put more people in close contact with one another than previously possible, and businesses have taken note.
Now, in the Management revolution, there is less focus on sending physical labor offshore, and more on outsourcing tasks. This is where we come back to Pete Williams’ core vs. mechanics model.
Now, when you need an accountant, you are not building an office and staffing it in another country to offset costs. You are hiring-out your accounting via outsourcing over the Internet. Companies large and small are taking advantage of the Web to streamline their operations, and free up management to focus on the important tasks that most support the brand.
The people you need to know…
Recently, we published a blog post meant to help freelancers navigate the world of business. As a manager, though, you can learn a thing or two from the surrounding context of the freelance marketplace.
What managers sometimes fail to grasp is that there are legions of freelancers, small businesses, and service providers out there, eager to take alleviate some stress from the lives of managers. When you are a manager and you outsource blogging – or something like human resources, as a better example – you are not “cheating the system” at all. In fact, you are embracing the current realities in business. You should not be worried with the tasks that are not of maximum relevance to your exact function. You should be looking for ways to take those tasks off your things-to-do list.
This does not mean that you should look to outsource tasks that your in-house team can perform. If you are a marketing manager and you need graphics for an ad campaign, use your in-house art department, but (in accordance with the Management revolution) manage the results, not the process. Your job is to get results, not make works of art. The same logic applies to any management role.
The democratization of the Management revolution is about pulling people onboard – employees and customers alike. No longer is the worker’s task simply to perform the task in an effort to make his or her actions supremely profitable. Now, the worker’s task is to help present a brand to its audience in a way that sustains its reputation and fosters an ongoing relationship. It is up to you as a manager to instill these values in your employees.
Embrace the creative side of business
Perhaps the biggest change underway in the world of business is the shift toward what Forbes is calling “the Creative economy.” That publication calls the 20th century economic model “the Traditional economy and it calls the last decade’s system “the Financial Capitalism economy.”
The Traditional Economy is the one we are all most familiar with, as it involves the longstanding notions of supply and demand, in examples of retailers like Walmart. The Financial Capitalism model is somewhat more notorious. To get an idea of why it is giving way to the Creative economy, see also the 2007 – 2008 Global Financial Crisis and you will have a good idea of why the Financial Capitalism model is not working, according to some.
The Creative economy is the one most interesting as of now (especially for us Quote Rollers), because it calls for creativity (as the name implies). The Creative economy identifies a demand for new, cool goods and services on the part of the consumer, and recognizes the resulting demand for innovation on the part of business.
The Creative economy is all about interconnectivity. The interconnectivity of the Web has brought about this economy, as more consumers are better informed in taking buying decisions than ever before.
Some of the major changes (according to Forbes) are:
The Creative economy is about satisfying people, sustainably
Horizontal communications instead of top-down “rules”
Direct customer interaction at department levels (including instant feedback via social media)
Above all, a focus on “inspiring” rather than “controlling”
Perhaps driven by Millennials at this point, this push toward valuing “creativity” over other things (like shareholders) is a welcome change. Of course, on the downside, the Creative economy is creating a need for hyper-fast innovation, which is in turn causing some businesses to wrestle with their internal operating complexity. As a manager this places additional demands on you to clearly define your essential role as a leader, and remain focused on the bottom line.
Creativity, coupled with interconnectivity, is a recipe for business success.
How does this affect your business?
The Management revolution is a dense topic, as you can tell by now. It is also a rapidly evolving subject. Always hinging on interconnectivity, as innovations in technology present new options for business processes, the revolution continues.
How does it affect your businesses, charming Quote Rollers?
Well, for one thing, you should be acknowledging it through your business proposals. Does your mission statement reflect the value you place on creativity? Do your pitches show that you are striving towards happy customers? Your business proposals need to reflect that you are changing with the times.
Increasingly, showing the telltale signs of the Traditional Economy is a no-no. You simply have to swim the currents of the Management revolution. There is nothing fear here, even amid the changes. In fact, for most entrepreneurs, this is a heyday of creative excitement. Now, you are free to perfect your craft, hone your expertise, and deliver your services to a receptive audience in a way that was not possible ten or twenty years ago.
Now that is a business proposal anyone can accept!
What has been the biggest change in your business in recent years? Which economic model most represents your business? Is it time to join the Management revolution? We would love to hear from you in the comment spaces below.