When did Noah build the ark? Before the rains start­ed. Then again (and I am not try­ing to become the­o­log­i­cal here), he had a stern and spe­cif­ic wake-up call that told him to start build­ing the ark.

What has this to do with any­thing tied to you and your firm?

Well, if you have not noticed, it is indeed an eco­nom­ic (and social) down­pour these days. The mar­ket­place is now rain­ing books on the crit­i­cal need for trans­for­ma­tion. Writ­ing for Forbes, Steve Den­ning says that a “ver­i­ta­ble rev­o­lu­tion in man­age­ment is under way.” He sup­ports that asser­tion by dis­cussing a range of books that rejects man­age­ment think­ing of the past as insuf­fi­cient to deal with the chal­lenges of a cre­ative econ­o­my.

One of the authors of Denning’s list of books, Dan Pon­te­fract ( Flat Army: Cre­at­ing a Con­nect­ed and Engaged Orga­ni­za­tion ) endors­es the con­clu­sions Den­ning draws. The title of Pontefract’s blog post says it all: “Steve Den­ning Nails It on Forbes: Par­a­digm Shift in Lead­er­ship and Man­age­ment”.

Creative Box 2The two blogs are, for me, a reflec­tion of how the dis­cus­sion about trans­for­ma­tion is creep­ing into main­stream man­age­ment cir­cles. It’s hard to remem­ber this many books on one sub­ject since the days of qual­i­ty.

As of this post, Amazon.co.uk lists 73,184 titles con­nect­ed to “qual­i­ty man­age­ment”. And though such search­es are very rel­a­tive and impre­cise, I see about 2,000 titles tied to “cre­ative econ­o­my” with at least one going back to 2002. Then again, the move­ment is still young. My bet is that there will be many more book titles tied to this theme show­ing up soon.

And this may be why I received so much response to my pri­or post on this sub­ject. But why is all this hap­pen­ing right now?

My sense is that com­pa­nies have cut, cut, cut to sus­tain or increase prof­itabil­i­ty. While doing that, most of these com­pa­nies have assumed a steady demand for their weak­en­ing lines of prod­ucts and ser­vices. Such an assump­tion is increas­ing­ly unwar­rant­ed. As lead­ers have grown increas­ing­ly rest­less over their inabil­i­ty to describe to their boards of direc­tors and stock­hold­ers “what’s next”, these lead­ers are slow­ly real­is­ing that cut­ting costs to the bone is usu­al­ly only good for cre­at­ing skele­tons.

Man­age­ment writ­ers are sens­ing this pain and are writ­ing books that, at the least, talk about the prob­lem and the need to take action.

What are organ­i­sa­tions going to do next? What is your organ­i­sa­tion going to do next? Both are very inter­est­ing ques­tions.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly for those old-school man­age­ment thinkers, the answer to either ques­tion will not be found in the words reduce, cut back, decrease, lessen, retrench, trim, slim down, down­size, low­er, slash (or) chop.

Just real­is­ing this could be, in and of itself, a step toward some­thing new, some­thing cre­ative. Just as the flip side of destruc­tion is cre­ation, we are enter­ing a cre­ative econ­o­my. There’s no oth­er way to go.

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