Time to re-examine our thinking about management,
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This review is from: Letting Go - breathing new life into organisations (Postcards from Scotland) (Paperback)
This thought provoking and highly readable, short book sets out to challenge our dominant way of thinking about management: the thinking that has given rise to a hierarchical, `command and control' model. The authors pose the question "how can we manage people without destroying their spirit and their natural motivation for doing a good job".
Miller and Hall argue that current management practice is around 50 years behind management theory. They cite examples from management theorists such as Maslow, McGregor, McLelland, Herzberg and US psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan as well as Daniel Pink's recent work on motivation. However their main theoretical foundation is the work of J Edwards Deming. Deming created a conceptual framework for effective management of people bringing together systems thinking, the importance of management theory, and the need for a deeper understanding of people.
While we are all well versed in the concepts of living systems, systems thinking and contemporary theories of human motivation; one wonders why the concept of the organization as machine with its workers as machine parts still dominates.
The challenge posed by Miller and Hall is for us all to examine the beliefs and opinions that underpin the way in which we currently management people. In particular they invite us to inquire more deeply into beliefs about the division of labour, the idea that management is about control, the assumption that everything is known and that people are essentially self-interested. Managing people they argue is clearly more complex than the `old thinking' implies and a change in thinking will bring about a change in the way our organisations are managed.
The authors invite us to value human diversity in practice not just in theory, to sidestep notions of performance management (described by Prof Philip Taylor as "The New Workplace Tyranny") that ignore the importance of context, and to foster working environments where human diversity is valued and our individual abilities are recognized and challenged. They quote some inspiring examples of what is possible.
Valuable reading for anyone who want to breathe new life into their organization.