The striking reality and power of THEE Frameworks can be appreciated through one of the Spiral of Growth trajectories, as described in the 1994 book: Strengthening the Management Culture.
This Spiral describes an evolution in the requisite values to strengthen management. It indicates how deterioration in culture should be understood, and how necessary changes should be pursued in organizations. There are seven stages of growth in management sophistication.
As in all Spirals, growth is a cumulative process. Once one set of values in a Stage becomes fully established, the values start to become over-used. This degeneration produces new problems within a more mature context. So a new set of values is required. Installation of values is difficult and time-consuming—not at all like getting action. All organizations can be mapped on the Spiral trajectory. Very few, if any, have completed the full journey.
At some point, I noticed a similar pattern in the emergence of ideas about management in society and in consulting services on offer. In retrospect, it should have been obvious much earlier. Values are exceedingly difficult to install unless they are supported by wider society. To take root and blossom, new values need to be affirmed, explained and promoted vigorously by respected authorities.
Only values that serve the most immediate needs of managers have any chance of being accepted. So academics and popular writers must sense what is needed «now». They must expound what these new values are about and why they are necessary. The social evolution of management values leads to the emergence of new management functions and new offerings from heavyweight external consultants that bolster the set of values being promoted.
Business leaders and managers tend to be resistant to change and suspicious of new ideas. Development of fads, deplored by sensible people, is all part of the pressure needed to activate them. Fads address the deep reluctance to be different. Even if fads sometimes drive changes in an excessive or foolish fashion, they are eventually put into correct perspective as time passes—and then the next fad emerges.
As I have observed it, the evolution in management thinking has taken place without any awareness that the sequence was natural and inevitable given competitive pressures.
Remember … this is an instance of exemplification of the Spiral and focuses on the US. It is not an actual instance in an organization. Much else occurred during this evolution. The story is outlined here with the broadest of brushes. Every student of management can fill in details or apply the ideas to their own country.
These showed up in muddle-through Managing-for-results never goes out of fashion. It represents the base on which all improvements must build. In this stage, brawn counts as much or more than brain.form in weak organizations, or as the achievement of the Robber Barons (Rockefeller, Carnegie and others).
Scientific management, the assembly line, and time & motion studies (Taylorism) brought order to the chaos of pragmatism. Alfred Sloan’s focus on re-structuring, creating divisions and introducing general manager,s did something similar for the senior executives.
Manager v professional and employer v union conflicts emerged, leading to legislation and the growth of Personnel Departments. Directors of Personnel were expected to cope with industrial conflicts as well as set up systems for staff training and development. There was a focus on human relations training in groups, and new skills like negotiation, mediation, and bargaining.
The importance of strategy and policy came to the fore as determinants for success. As thinking and reasoning were valued, a flurry of new journals on these topics was launched: J of Business Strategy, J of Policy-making and such like. Organizations introduced Strategic Planning departments at HQ, planning departments within divisions, and put planners everywhere. Personnel Departments became responsible for Human Resources. TQM appeared and consulting firms emerged to help implement TQM. Some consultancies just took over the strategic planning function wholesale.
Stakeholder theory emerged and re-shaped into .
The effective use of information and knowledge management became possible via computerization. So IT was seen by all as absolutely essential for competitive advantage. Posts of Chief Knowledge Officer, Chief Information Officer were created as well as IT departments. This enabled BPR (Business Process Re-engineering), Just-in-time systems, and Customer Relations Management.
The «empiricist culture boom» is now well established. Computerization is no longer a competitive advantage when everyone does it.
We must now move into the predictive mode. Remember: The values that define the growth process at each stage cumulate to produce increasing sophistication.
It seems that the baton for competitive advantage is now being handed to Stage-6 in the Spiral. We have evidence in the recent focus on winning staff commitment and developing creativity to support organizational innovation. A lot of creativity will be required just to survive the current global financial crisis. We can predict a flood of creativity tools, institutes for innovation, creativity consultants, awareness training &c. The millennial generation will enthusiastically promote creativity and thrive if it is enabled. Personnel will have yet another re-badging as a Department for Human Creativity & Development.
This final stage will emerge based on the continuing globalization of production and markets. There will be increased competitive pressures as the many large emerging countries become ever more sophisticated. At the same time, there will be significant improvements in software and in handling people, flowing from achievements in the TEM (Total Ethical Management™) and «learning organization» tools.and respectively. Personnel will seek to remain relevant by again re-badging, this time as the Department for Psychosocial Interaction. Consultancy services will emerge offering system modelling,
Growth has a non-utopian conclusion: people never become perfect, management never becomes easy, competition remains stressful, governments continue to intrude, and crises still come out of left-field. However, the most sophisticated organizations will handle challenges successfully, in large part through their culture of .
Originally posted: August 2009; Last updated 2-Jul-2010.