Schwerpunkt: Management

Survey results from a 2009 Chief Learning Officer survey showed that 77% of respondents felt that people in their organization were not growing fast enough to keep up with the business. And what have the learning and development (L&D) specialists been doing about it? Not much it seems. Donald Clark reports that decision-makers at UK organizations feel that:

  • 55% claim L&D failing to deliver necessary training
  • 46% doubt L&D can deliver
  • less than 18% agree that L&D aligned with business

But let’s not blame just L&D. Human Resources (HR) seem to be out of sync with organizational needs as well, nicely summed up in a recent FastCompany article:

I think successful organizations are very rigorous and creative about getting profitable work from their employees, their managers, and their business units. The problem is, those organizations don’t expect as much from HR, hence HR is usually not overseen, not measured, and not judged for its performance. It’s the department no one wants to be responsible for. It’s the department that is not subjected to outcomes analysis.

But the real culprit is management and that’s what needs to change. Steve Denning blames the Harvard Business School mindset for holding back organizational progress and goes on to explain how senior management kills innovation in many areas, including knowledge management:

So even when an oasis of excellence and innovation is established within an organization being run on traditional management lines, the experience doesn’t take root and replicate throughout the organization because the setting isn’t congenial. The fundamental assumptions, attitudes and values are at odds with those of traditional management.

I’m seeing that all of our initiatives for increased knowledge-sharing; communities of practice; social business;  or networked learning are rather futile unless management itself changes. The real chasm at work is between the C-suite and the K-workers. I’m not sure how to change this, but the focus (or in German: schwerpunkt) has be on three things: management, management & management. Anything else is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

5 Responses to “Schwerpunkt: Management”

  1. Jon Husband

    But the real culprit is management and that’s what needs to change

    Nooooooooo … !

    Not on the agenda 😉

    Reply
  2. Gilbert (Formative Assessment Guy)

    Management might have a role to play but I think the problems goes beyond management awareness.

    Management simply doesn’t get it. I agree. But management is made up of people like the rest of the workforce.

    We need more people understanding organizational principles and the nature of work, collaboration, productivity,performance, etc. Unitl we get a critical mass of such people we won’t see much change.

    The world simply cannot function at the same level of stupidity has it did for the last 70 years. Somehow individuals and organisations have to learn how to be less stupid. That applies to everyone, HR included.

    And the best way to be less stupid is probably to start thinking and questioning things.

    HR are very good at hiring the wrong people.

    Reply
  3. Eric

    @Gilbert: “Until we get a critical mass of such people we won’t see much change.”

    I’m beginning to wonder if we see too much change in management. That is, it is my experience that managers try new things so often (and without assessment) that training cannot keep up. It’s not that management doesn’t question things; perhaps it’s the manner in which they question things that needs changing.

    Reply
  4. Gilbert (Formative Assessment Guy)

    When you work as a system analyst in large organisations systems you really see some pretty bad cases of over-optimistic managers.

    @Eric “perhaps it’s the manner in which they question things that needs changing”.

    About 20 years ago we saw great strides in the Quality domain. Japan, in particular, at a national level went from a status of “producer of poor quality” to being a producer of “quality products”.

    One of the most important factors in the change is that they simply “started to apply quality management theory” instead of managing by the seats of their pants.

    If managers managed according to management science instead of going by the seat of their pants we would see major improvements.

    Reply
  5. Eric

    @Gilbert: “If managers managed according to management science instead of going by the seat of their pants we would see major improvements.”

    Excellent Synopsis.

    Reply

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