Cisco’s John Chambers is calling the current economic scenario “the biggest opportunity of our lifetime”, and asking managers to shift from a centralised approach to a more collaborative one. Of course, Cisco as a company has much to gain from the growth of collaborative network organisational models, but he does have a point.
But will it be simple to make that shift? After decades, maybe centuries, of command-and-control behaviour training from kindergarten, it will take more than a few months for people to learn how to collaborate. Remember the management adage: “Lead, be led or get out of the way”? May be time to question even that. I’m not suggesting that there is no further need for leaders, but Jim Collins’ Level 5 Leadership (or even a more evolved form) needs to be adopted, for true collaboration to happen rather than a push / shove / cut & chop. Many current management models have to be thrown out and new ones implemented, and even old ones re-discovered. While we may not realise it (or may not want to see it), many of the current management models are quite feudal in nature.
What’s more – and I might be out on a limb here – we may even have to de-construct our whole economic model which is built on the principle of “scaling up and consolidation”, in favor of fragmentation and individualisation.
A very very good documentary to watch in the current times is “The Corporation”, other than digging into the host of other literature that is available.