Messing the managers
I came across this pair of items that talk about a familiar topic. Innovation and management are difficult to connect. Innovation is inherently messy and requires openness, freedom, fluidity. Management (traditionally) seeks structure and control.
Jim McGee wrote about it in response to commentary from Clay Shirky and suggests there is a balance between the messiness of innovation and the the right amount of control in management.
What Clay is calling attention to is the value to be found in encouraging the fundamental messiness and disorder of invention and discovery. Unfortunately, managers generally don’t become managers because they are fond of disorder. Even managers who have long ago abandoned the caricatures of command and control models are likely to find guiding this kind of innovation a source of discomfort. But it is discomfort that is essential to encouraging the sort of retail level innovation made possible in the technology environment that is emerging.
In the same sitting, I read Mary Abraham's Control Freaks Need Not Apply about social media work and the general culture that has built up around the use of these tools within business. Essentially,
If you’re a control freak, you might want to think twice about a career in social media. After all, some of the most successful social networks have flourished precisely because the control freaks got out of the way and, in their own words, let the lunatics run the asylum.
Of course, as both Jim and Mary suggest, all is not lost. Management needs to "get out of the way," but there is still plenty of facilitation and direction to be provided. Having a completely open field can be just as problematic as attempting to put everyone on the same single-track path.
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