Evolution of management over the past century

1990s: Process optimisation

Benchmarking and business process reengineering became popular in the 1990s and by the middle of the decade, 60 per cent of Fortune 500 companies claimed to have plans for, or have already initiated such projects. TQM, Six Sigma and Lean remained popular and a more holistic, organisation-wide approach and strategy implementation took the stage with tools such as Strategy Maps and Balance Scorecards.

2000s: Big Data

Largely driven by the consulting industry under the banner of Big Data, organisations in the 2000s started to focus on using technology for growth and value creation. Meanwhile, oversaturation of existing market space drove to concepts such as Blue Ocean Strategy and Value Innovation.

How we lead our people and how we solve problems and innovate, are some of the most important aspects of Management to get right. In our research, we?ve therefore looked specifically at two aspects of Management throughout history, and how these will develop in the future: 

Management Approach: the style of top management, ranging from:

  • Control (i.e. your boss tells you what to do and how to do it);
  • Set Goals (i.e. your boss sets goals and expectations, but you have more freedom with regards to how you achieve them); and
  • Inspire (i.e. your boss gives you scope and freedom to innovate on both the what and the how).
Approach to Innovation / Problem Solving: how leaders solve strategic problems and develop new products and services. 

This ranged from:

  • Top Down (i.e. solutions are created and come from the top);
  • Top Down with Bottom Up Data (i.e. the rest of the organisation contributes information and experiences, but solutions are still created at the top); and
  • Participatory (i.e. solutions are created collaboratively, and throughout the organisational levels).
After a century of trying to control people, processes and information, we have come to a point in organisational history where we need to recognise that what worked before just simply isn?t enough anymore. Traditional Management is fine if you want compliance, but if you want innovation and growth, you need to engage your people on a whole new level. 

Over the next couple of weeks I will discuss the future of organisations, and what it really takes to increase value creation, innovation and employee engagement in today?s business environment.

Therese S Kinal is the CEO and co-founder of Unleash, a disruptive innovator in the management consulting industry. She is the co-author of ‘Unleashing: The Future of Work’.

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