Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reengineering Management: The Grandest Challenges

Reengineering Management: The Grandest Challenges

When the National Academy of Engineering recently offered a list of “grand engineering challenges” — everything from developing methods for carbon sequestration to reverse engineering the brain — management consultant Gary Hamel thought, why not do the same for business management?

What should be the great, ambitious goals for advancing management into the 21st century?

Hamel offers a list of these potential challenges on a Harvard Business Publishing blog, 25 Stretch Goals for Management. The list came from a two-day convening of top business and social thinkers including Eric Schmidt, Peter Senge and James Surowiecki.

Here are five ideas that made the final cut. Check out Hamel’s post for the full list.

Ensure that management’s work serves a higher purpose. Management, both in theory and practice, must orient itself to the achievement of noble, socially significant goals.

Reconstruct management’s philosophical foundations. To build organizations that are more than merely efficient, we will need to draw lessons from such fields as biology and theology, and from such concepts as democracies and markets.

Redefine the work of leadership. The notion of the leader as a heroic decision maker is untenable. Leaders must be recast as social-systems architects who enable innovation and collaboration.

De-structure and disaggregate the organization. To become more adaptable and innovative, large entities must be disaggregated into smaller, more malleable units.

Empower the renegades and disarm the reactionaries. Management systems must give more power to employees whose emotional equity is invested in the future rather than in the past.

What would you add to the list?

By: Sean Silverthorne

About Author: Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNet and Executive Editor of ZDNet News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.

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