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”.
The 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.