Achieving world harmony by unleashing management

Achieving world harmony by unleashing management

This article was first published in Business Times on 11 May 2019

Achieving world harmony by unleashing management
By John Bittleston

As we enter into the second quarter of 2019, it makes sense to do a review of this column ‘Management Unleashed’ to date. The previous articles published so far in this series have been a fairly logical, commonsense extension of what any organisation must do to equip itself with the soft skills for the 21st Century. Hard skills are being overtaken by robotics and artificial intelligence, powerful drivers of logic and order. In time, AI will replace many jobs. Humans will still exist, though for how long and in what form will be determined by our successors. They will have the unenviable task of weighing the value of measure and predictability against feeling and sensitivity – the useable waterfall versus the picturesque stream.

The Balance of Science and Art

Unleashing management should therefore be a development of the soft skills even more than of the hard skills. The latter will develop anyway; the former will atrophy and die unless nurtured. Our humanity is not inviolable but it is unique. Three hundred thousand years of developing it were a commitment as great as any the world has seen. Events like the Renaissance transformed the living experience from one of purely practical need to one of appreciation, sensitivity, the right to laugh and the right to cry. If it is to be modified, reinvented or discarded it should be by intention and plan, not by neglect. If you think it is a long way from EBITDA to ballet, you are not perceiving the relationship between clout and continuity.

Management’s growing and expanding responsibilities

Unleashed management has responsibilities way beyond the profit line. Management is already demonstrated as more effective than politics, more durable than a corporation, more influential than an army. Those who head the big corporations may not always seem fitted to be the leaders of society. In practice they are, and we need to pay more attention to seeing that they are properly equipped with moral standards and ethical beliefs than we do to politicians, priests and monarchs. These are the people who are needed to marshal forces to sustain the planet, to distribute wealth more evenly, to bring health to a growing world population. They are needed to educate, to communicate, to establish a new behavioural order to replace the worn out moralities of the industrial and technological revolutions.

Management as society’s leaders

Management is today needed to lead where others are failing to do so. In the process of unleashing them, we must ensure that they behave well and achieve the harmony that the world needs – even if this is sometimes at the expense of greater profits. Management’s job is more than making money and the extras that they must now embrace are not spare-time add-ons but core management responsibilities. The world has not widely accepted this yet but it has to do so soon.

In short, management is unleashed in order to turn the attentions of a competent class of leaders from its past relatively narrow leadership role to a much bigger role of growth and exploration for the future. To achieve this requires an understanding of humans far beyond the job description, way outside the profit line, into a new form of productivity, the productivity of purpose. For this reason, Management Unleashed will, in the next few articles, concentrate on the wider responsibilities that must sit on Managements’ shoulders.

What are Management’s new priorities?

The priorities for Management beyond its key responsibility to run and grow a profitable business are Climate Control, Human Education, more than simply business or organisation learning, Technology Development to ensure temperate use of AI and its successors, Humanism, meaning the Arts, supported in a way to balance scientific learning, Health to ensure healthy life for employees and their families and those further afield, Sport, to develop healthy competitive discovery and to balance sedentary life with activity, The Infrastructure, including property ownership and rights, to make more logical and fewer partisan decisions about city development, which is currently a mess in most cities.

If this sounds like a world management political agenda, it is. The need for Managements everywhere to address these issues is paramount. How should they set about doing so?

The vital involvement of shareholders

One group missing from the list of people Management has to be helping is the most important group of all – the shareholders. They are key to enabling the CEO and his team to see beyond the immediate job. If the shareholders don’t support his or her initiatives, they will fire the CEO and possibly the whole Board. It is vital, therefore, that shareholders are involved all the time, brought up to date with what is going on and why – not in a formal AGM-type way but in discussions that allow them to blow off steam and feel they are contributing. When they are, you are winning.

Shareholders by definition are a mixture of intellects and aspirations. The big corporate investors are probably already involved in big CSR decisions. They have to be so concerned that they initiate CSR, don’t just endorse it.

A vision of how future management must work.

In my next article I will discuss the handling of CSR within organisations and why it is being done so badly at present. We will look at the issues of culture change, involvement of all in an organisation’s social responsibility and the benefits that accrue from playing a bigger role in society.

The lights are going out all over the political world. Management’s lights must burn longer and brighter. That way they will at last justify their wages. That way, society will adapt to its intriguing but alarming new environment.