Workers, Management and Work Support

Learning professionals are facing similar issues that others (HR, KM, IT & Marketing) do, but in many ways it’s a case of the blind men and the elephant. We are constrained by the blinders of our profession’s models. That’s one reason I like to take my models from a variety of fields, not just training or HPT. I previously wrote that we should integrate our work support departments and Tom Gram shows how this can be done by designing an organizational effectiveness function or creating internal management consultants, though these approaches can create their own bureaucracies as well, as Tom recognizes.

As effective as these approaches may be for now, I don’t think they’re adequate for the future. Everyone is struggling to keep up with change but most are using outdated tools and models. As Lou Sagar commented on Umair Haque’s post, ” … the emergence of new business models are ahead of the organizational framework to embrace and manage the impact.” That pretty well sums up the problem in my mind. We are all blind men unable to understand the new realities of work. Look at a business model as new as e-Bay’s, which many companies have yet to understand, and then add in the fact that it is already outdated and may even be declining.

The real conversation has yet to surface in the mainstream about the organizational change needed to address complexity and networks. There are models surfacing but as yet to be embraced, such as Haque’s work, wirearchy or valence theory. Creating a Chief Performance Officer out of the previous HR/Training/OD/KM functions may seem like progress but not if the realities of networked wealth creation don’t need a Chief “X” Officer any more.

Models such as chaordic organizations (PDF) show that command & control is not always necessary to be effective, especially within networks:

Given the right circumstances, from no more than dreams, determination, and the liberty to try, quite ordinary people consistently do extraordinary things.

Here’s the model that I’ve constructed on how training should adapt to a world where working and learning are synonymous, but even this shows a difference between management and workers, and perhaps that distinction is no longer pertinent.

In complex environments and networks, if workers need to be managed, they should not be hired in the first place, but then neither should managers.

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