Management thinking is moving towards an understanding of human action as a process of sense making. What an organization becomes emerges from the sense-making relationships of its members, rather than being determined by the choices of a few powerful individuals.
Management has historically been seen as a collection of tasks involving planning, organizing, controlling and incentivizing. A competent manager is believed to be able to analyze organizational and task requirements and also the emotionally loaded human motivations. Successful management has then been able to remove conflict and uncertainty and accurately predict and plan the future.
The firm of the future may be ten million people working together for ten minutes
Corporations are the dominant mechanism by which economic activity is organized. Whether there are opportunities for social innovation in the corporate world is hence a key question for the prosperity and well being in the emerging post-industrial society.
Over the past years, intelligent technologies, peer-to-peer cryptocurrencies and the Internet have laid the foundation for a very small size and a very low-cost enterprise with the potential for managing very large numbers of business relationships. The impact of these new actors is still hard to grasp because we are used to thinking about work from a different perspective.
Economic growth is about value added. In manufacturing it was adding value as a transformation process from raw materials to goods. Economic growth today is still about value added but the transformation process is often very different. The industrial process was a linear, sequential chain of predictable acts. The problem to be solved was known and the solution to the problem was clearly defined. In creative work, the transformation process is a non-linear, complex movement of thought from unclear problems to developing solutions. Work is exploration when defining problems as well as for creating solutions.
The worlds of mass manufacturing and contextual, problem-based work require very different thinking and skills. In the learning-intensive world we live in, it is not about reductionist job roles and narrow, clear responsibilities any more. Everybody needs to take part in the common movement of thought.