I’ve been reading The Future of Management, recommended by Jay, and would say that it’s one of the better management books I’ve read in several years. The book’s major premise is that industrial command and control organisations no longer work and explains why they don’t work, as well as giving examples of companies that refute parts of the established industrial models – Google, W.L. Gore, Best Buy, Semco.
The authors show how innovation at the operational, product & service and strategic levels only yield incremental results, but Management Innovation has the potential for much greater change. Henry Ford’s management innovations created the successful 20th Century automobile industry.
As I sit on the sidelines of corporatism, having some as clients but not as employers, I see an increasing wave of adventurers jumping ship and becoming free-agents. As much as working as an independent may be exciting and liberating, it doesn’t scale up very well. With an increasing number of free-agents, I think that one area of future management innovation will be the creation of models (and laws and regulations to support them) for networks of independents. It took a while for The Corporation to become the dominant model and the network appears to be the next logical step. Independents now have access to knowledge as well as the same information productivity tools as corporations. They lack easy legal tools to do the equivalent of incorporating, as was necessary in order to get limited liability and access to investment for physical capital. As cooperatives and credit unions changed banking, worker networks may change capitalism.