The Atlantic recently did a piece that delved into the human brain’s bias against novelty, citing in particular communications experts’ predictions that the iPhone would be a total flop. The article explores the idea that as people become more knowledgeable in a certain field, they are less inclined to accept new ideas even when creativity is the stated goal.
One would expect that the same principles would hold when it comes to management as well as evaluating projects.
Managing expert Peter Mintzberg, who has written many books on the subject, affirms the ideas implicitly put forth in the Atlantic article. His novel approaches to management are somewhat antithetical formulaic approach typical in the business world. He posits that the art of management is the act of cultivating an environment in which an organizational culture of creativity is fostered and people within organizations are free to come up with ideas that further the organization.
When this view is pitted against the commentary that the Atlantic puts forth, it’s no wonder that good management as a concept, while easy to put down on paper as a goal, is hard to attain.
One can take a formulaic view of management that is focused more on tasks, or one could adopt Mintzberg’s view of cultivating a culture in the organization that fosters new ideas.
In a piece regarding the practices of great managers, the Harvard Business Review affirms Mintzberg’s view that the best managers approach the idea of management as the means to building people’s strengths rather than simply focusing on tasks and processes. The story of the Walgreen’s managers and their ability to shuffle around their employees to effectively capitalize on strengths is a testament to the power of a people-oriented rather than bottom line oriented approach.