What is management? Really. Why do we use it? When was the last time we challenged the thought of needing it? How old is this model of business? Does this still work?
We think of management like the trees and the mountains. Its always just been there. But this ‘technology’ was invented around 1850 at the very beginning of the steel industry age. What technology from the 1800’s do we still use in our work place today? We have improved and optimized but why do we lean so heavily on this structure.
The definition of management is “the process of dealing with or controlling things or people”. I’ve mentioned before that the key to mastery and true value is willing engagement. Consider a simple study carried out where a group of artists were contacted (unknowingly as a part of the experiment) and they were all told to create a work of art on a common subject with the same media. Half of the group was told they would get paid a large sum of money, told it was for a very important client and given a deadline. The other half were given the same topic but with full autonomy for completion. All paintings were criticized by art experts and the group with no deadline and no payment not only reviewed as higher quality but they were done faster.
This is a quick summary of the details of the experiment but the group that was paid felt they hadto be doing what they were doing and the reward clouded their focus or freedom of personal expression. They got the job done to get the job done. The other group had more passion, more freedom of expression and they were not constrained by time and therefore ran with the project as if it was their own and produced much better work.
There are two types of motivators. Intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic comes from the inside (accomplishment, recognition, passion) and extrinsic comes from the world around us (money, things, gifts). This study with the artists above proves that
THOSE WHO ARE LESS EXTRINSICALLY MOTIVATED ARE MORE LIKELY TO GET IT.
Management is based on a “if you do ______ you will get _____”. Lets call that the stick and carrot. And “if you don’t do ______ you will be punished by______”. Lets call that the whip. This is saying that if there is no reward and no punishment then the natural or default state is to be still. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all want to be engaged. We all want to feel accomplishment and recognized.
ONE OF THE MOST VALUED FORM OF COMPENSATION IS PEER RECOGNITION.
I believe the current and most common top down direction structure goes against human nature itself. It is in our nature to explore. It is in our nature to improve, grow, learn and feel accomplished and recognized. If you doubt this just look at kids. Always exploring the world around them. And think about that feeling when you get a ‘like’ or a ‘comment’ on social media. Just the thought of potential peer recognition releases all kinds of endorphins. We naturally want to feel all these things. Which is why social media is so addictive.
Cornell University studied 320 small business, half of which granted autonomy and the other half was top down direction. The autonomous business grew at four times the rate and had a third of the employee turnover.
Management gets control. Control leads to compliance. This does have its area. It works well when doing routine and repetitive tasks. But, if we are here to improve our organizations, if we are here to push to the next level of operation by challenging paradigms, and if we want to feel engaged, work with passion and produce beautiful art, then we need a different approach. We need to share our large goals and desired results with a more autonomous environment where we can feel more accomplished and fulfilled than ever. Everyone is different and everyone produces best under different circumstances.
THIS ERA DOESN’T NEED MORE MANAGERS IT NEEDS A GOOD ENOUGH VALUE PROPOSITION THAT THERE IS WILLING ENGAGEMENT.
Case studies from Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. By Daniel Pink.