Is Our Management System a Dead Man Walking?

Management as we know it is a dead man walking. I believe the future of management isn’t even management as we have it defined today – a type of command-and-control centralization of power and information.

I’ve written on the difference between leadership and management before and was met with a dichotomy of viewpoints – some heartily agreed while others adamantly disapproved with my characterizations of the two styles.

But, the truth is, management is broken. It’s a system designed for a world that no longer exists except in the management books of yesteryear. Don’t get me wrong. Management worked quite successfully for hundreds of years when the bulk of our economy and industry centered around the manufacturing and distribution of product. However, that world no longer exists – at least in the United States (which is where most of my readers reside).

Instead, over 80% of the US economy is comprised of service-based businesses. The vast majority of us don’t construct physical products – we provide a service to people. In spite of this, we cling blindly to a management system that wasn’t designed for the world we now find ourselves in the middle of. Manufacturing is a slow process. It’s a linear process. Service is a dynamic, non-static, non-linear type of business that must be adaptive and flexible – the antithesis of what management craves.

When I talk about The Millennial Revolution, some people get upset with me. I’m okay with that because I’m not here to tickle their ears with a message that everything is going to be okay simply by holding firm to a system many are starting to realize is no longer working. There are plenty of other people that will do that for you.

Instead, I want to explain what’s happening and why. I want to increase understanding so that real innovation in the workplace can occur. Because it’s the innovators that will ultimately succeed – not those companies that continue to do something simply because that’s how they’ve always done it. This is a form of pride and we all know that pride comes before the fall.

As it stands, Millennials are a generation of people 80 million strong in the US. Over 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 34. Many have already entered the workforce and more will be entering the workforce in the coming years. As I mentioned before, it’s not whether you think they’re right or wrong that matters. If it comes down to a fight, they’re going to win out simply by sheer size and the attrition and mortality of those generations above them. In three short years, they will comprise 50% of the workforce in the US. I’m betting that in 10 years, they will hold the majority of the management and executive positions in most companies.

So, who do you think will be shaping the future of how companies are run?

I’m writing this to let you know that I’m shifting the emphasis of this blog a little. I’ll still focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and management. However, I’m going to tell you what’s coming and help you get prepared for the inevitable changes.

I also want to help you shape the future. If you’re a Baby Boomer or Gen Xer, you’re needed. This isn’t about rolling over and blindly accepting what Millennials want. But the goal shouldn’t be to blindly fight to protect a dying system. The goal should be about shaping and guiding the evolution of business and management. Neither side is fully right or fully wrong. My purpose is to focus us on the principles that transcend the right-versus-wrong argument and examine how we can allow for differing implementations of the principles that should remain unaltered.

Management as we’ve come to know it is not a principle. It’s a system. And it’s a broken system.

I want to hear from you. I want to know what you’d like me to write about. This is a dialogue. So, start talking.