Why we need Management 3.0

To be a manager is not really “in” in the moment. Managers are very much associated with obscenely high bonuses and at the same time with mass lay-offs of employees. Managers make our societies more unequal and more unsustainable.

No wonder nobody thinks of managers when it comes to making the world a better place.

And yet it is the profession of management which is a promising starting point to make our world more human and more empathic. But for sure, we need a new way to manage. Gary Hamel calls it Management 2.0, Jurgen Appelo labels it Management 3.0. Both mean the same thing.

Management 1.0 = Hierarchies

What we call management today has its origin in the US in the early 20th century. During the second industrial revolution labor had to be organized for mankind’s first real mass productions. The purpose and content is given from the top and the organization is designed and managed in a top-down fashion. People have to adapt to the organization.

Interestingly, many principles and practices still used today have already been developed during those early days. While the environment has changed dramatically.

Management 2.0 = Models

As Management 1.0 didn’t work well anymore, many add-on models (Jurgen Appelo) were created, e.g. Balanced Scorecard, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, or Total Quality Management.

But all these models still assume that organizations are managed from the top. And all these approaches have been made for people being at the top of an organization.

Management 3.0 = Complexity

The break-through in understanding modern organizations came in the 1980’s and 90’s with the rise of systems and complexity sciences:

When you depict organizations as social networks or self-organizing systems – and not machines – it is much easer to understand their behavior.

This was paradigm shift.

With serious consequences:

  • A commercial company is just one special case of a “social system”. Creating viable structures means that the purpose of a company can not be seen in maximizing its profits. The purpose of any organization must relate to the environment of which it is part of.
  • Management is primarily about people and their relationships. To draw on people’s ingenuity and creativity organizations have to adapt to people.

All of a sudden the scientific foundation of management has been found in systems and complexity sciences. And not in business administration with its central focus on accounting.

In a networked knowledge-society organizations create and shape the world. And managers create and shape organizations.

Therewith the profession of management has got the potential to make the world more human and more empathic.


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