We have to change the whole culture and role of management. It has to go from compliance to creativity. (Prof. R Scase)
"... technology is creating a far greater need to leverage human
capital more effectively than in the past."
"I think the dot.com companies, despite all the hype, despite the
fact that 95% of them will go to the wall, are creating a new culture of how we
do business; a new culture which is based on an anti-business business
approach, a culture of business which is very much twenty-first century,
unlike the culture of management which we have today which is often, for many
businesses, nineteenth century. The dot.com companies are causing huge
ramifications for all kinds of other businesses and other economic
[Editor's Notes: In the body of this text and above, I have quoted
extracts from a presentation delivered by Prof. Richard Scase in London, during
September 2000. I have taken the liberty of making some minor amendments to the
verbatim text which was reported because, on occasion, the transcriber seems to
have misheard the recording.
Richard Scase is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK), a business futurist and a key advisor to the UK government on business issues.]
"Today I will focus on the ways in which organisational changes are
going to impact upon the role of management. In fact I think 'the role of
management' is the wrong term. I think we're going to have the migration of
management to leadership, and I think those two words are very, very
different, requiring very different skills, very different kinds of abilities,
very different psychologies.
I'm going to look ... at the knowledge-based economy ... some of
the patterns of corporate change and organisational restructuring which
are being driven by developments in the knowledge economy ... some future
directions in work patterns - because this is going to have a huge
consequence on, and huge implications for, the nature of future corporate
leadership and how we manage people - and then to sum up, the future role of
... information systems (knowledge management systems) have not replaced
one key thing, which is intellectual capability. This highlights the key
issue for the educational system, because what is needed in the present and
future organisation - in terms of competitive advantage, success or failure - is
not management systems, not knowledge management systems, but creativity.
Nurturing and stimulating creativity brings us back to the dot.com companies.
Say what you like about them, they have a culture which encourages creativity.
What do I mean by creativity?
It is insights, thinking of things in a different way. Thinking of the
unusual, and creating an environment where people are constantly checking,
evaluating, challenging and thinking of new opportunities and ways of doing
Most of our business cultures don't allow us to think in this way. How
should we encourage creativity? I think we should do this by responding to the
new set of employee aspirations. That is by responding to the model of dot.com
organisations which revolves around 'personal development, excitement and the
new generation (as in Generation Internet)'. Creative people are in short
supply, globally. We have an excess capacity to make automobiles, steel and all
those sorts of things. We have an acute global shortage of creative - not
qualified - but creative people. We have young people and we have people
in general who have re-defined their psychological contract. "If CEO's are
coming into a business to lift up the share value for three years before they go
on to the next company to do it again, why shouldn't I do the same too?"
Nurturing creativity means also changing working relationships, both
spatially and socially, in terms of a number of factors which are all about
developing leadership and vision. As functional managers are we developing
the learning organisation and also creating employment excitement? Creating
flexible work practices. Allowing people autonomy. Developing team dynamics.
What I'm referring to here is, if you look at high-performing businesses -
I've been looking at creative businesses in the London area and people have been
saying; 'well come into my business, come and look at my business, we don't know
why we're successful; it would be great if you can tell us why we're
successful'. In response I have to say; 'You can't tell why they are successful
because it's all tacit, it's all implied, it's all in peoples' heads; how they
get on and work together, and that sort of thing. You can't teach it in an MBA
programme. You can't get it out of textbooks'.
What is clear is that if you go into such organisations, you feel a buzz,
... somehow management is turned upside down, it's anti-business business ...
employees have a stake in the ownership of the business. A lot of value is given
to autonomy. I call it 'the schizophrenic organisation'. You have certain kinds
of workplace architecture where the workplace is used for negotiation and
discussion, not for actually doing the jobs themselves.
We have to change the whole culture and role of management. It has to go from
compliance to creativity.
We have to kill the fixed idea.
Businesses operate on assumptions of the fixed idea. 'This is how we do
things here, this is how we've done it in the past, this will do well in the
future, etc.' Very rarely do we spontaneously change, we only change if
someone takes us over or we're at threat of being closed down, threat of being
taken over, or going out of business or what-have-you.
The great thing about the dot.com companies - as an image and as an
anti-business business model - is they don't operate on the basis of the fixed
idea. I think the key challenge for management in the future, the key challenge
for management training in the future, is to encourage people to think
creatively, to think the unusual, to think the unthinkable, to get rid of
the fixed ideas. Essentially the challenge is to realise the creative potential
of those employees who are going to be in short demand - who are in high demand
in terms of their own skills - in organisations which are transformed because of
the capabilities of Internet technologies.
So my final point is that in this information age, in this global
e-business world that we're moving into, we have an interesting paradox. On the
one hand, we're becoming more and more 'technologised'; on the other hand
technology is creating a far greater need to leverage human capital more
effectively than in the past. This puts even greater pressure on us to be
effective leaders of that human capital if we are to compete in this rapidly
changing, ever-changing global economy."
Printed with permission
© Copyright 2000 Richard Scase
Edited by: Ron Wells