This topic was was my baseline at the beginning of this blog but I deserted it for a simple reason : I wrote a lot about how enterprises were supposed to work and, once done, holding on it endlessy was useless. The next step is to think about how to make it possible, by validating new practice’s relevance and think about implementing it in a pragmatic way.Â Now tools are taking their place step by step within the enterprises, I’m sur 2008 will be the very beginning of change in management and organization. I insist on “the very beginning”. Don’t expect any tsunami : tools are slowly arriving and we’ll need time to have them adopted, and once the adoption will be effective, it will be obvious different management practices have to be set up (even if the wish of new practices precedes tool’s deployment).
A few weeks ago David Gurteen wrote about web 2.0 practices and management 2.0 on the same basis asÂ Gary Hamel in “The Future Of Management”. But he also asked this question : who will be the managers 2.0 ? Will they we updated managers 1.0 ? Do we have to wait for their retirement to give power to a next generation ?
Considering the speed things are going, I’m affraid that if we wait for the transfer of power between two generations, it will be too late. We’re not talking about 10 or 20 years but about dynamics that will start in the next months. And on a 10 years scale the risk of acculturation for new generations is real. And, as Hamel says, it will be too late.
I also like to point that the “digital natives” myth has its limits. Some of them quickly acculturate themselves, by fear. And, at the opposite, we can find 40 y.o. people who are very proactive.
So, do we have to wait for digital natives ? Yes, certainly. But before them there is an intermediate generation we mustn’t neglect.
Can we “upgrade” seniors ? Yes…at least some of them. But not through force. This generation is not as impervious to change but their experience taught them to be cautious. And they’re used to cycles of change that are longer than those we experience now. Change will need to be taught by the example. They’re not against it but they are the guardians of a system that works (more or less) until they aren’t shown something more efficient exists, in a tangible way. Of course, who doesn’t try never gets anything, and the only point with them is that experimentation is not in their culture.
To make it brief, we’re entering an era of transition and will have to lean on some senior leaders, convince some others, make digital natives not acculturate themselves, and use the middle generation as a kingpin.
And above all, never forget one thing : it’s not about jumping from one generation to another, from a model to a new one, to give up what exists today for informal and intangible organization, but it’s about building synergies between those two trends which will be the enterprise’s pillars.
Unless economic reality imposes us a more abrupt transition.