Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Intentional management 39: adding people and their management into the equation according to the basic default model

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on March 19, 2017

This is my 39th installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-38.)

I began this series with a primary focus on the What and How of management processes and practice and have at least relatively systematically pursued that approach from its Part 1 beginning. Then I switched directions in Part 38 of this ongoing narrative to more fully and directly begin considering the Who side of this too.

To be more precise here, the intentional management approach that I offer in this series seeks to arrive at and develop a management systems methodology that could be optimized for any specific business under consideration, with its particular business model and overall mission and vision goals, and its marketplace and general context, and with its corporate culture in place. And this approach would at least ideally offer a relatively clear path forward for planning out and executing upon business growth, as well as for managing through change and uncertainty. Together, that means my goal in all of this is to offer tools and approaches for arriving at and following a more agile and responsive management system and approach that would be a better, if not always best fit for meeting the needs and opportunities of the specific business organization, and with all of its defining points of uniqueness as well as for where it is following a more standard and a more commonly held approach.

That presents intentional management from the What and How perspective that I have been developing up to here. Turning to the Who, this approach as considered from a Human Resources and Personnel perspective, seeks to develop and implement a combination of personnel policy and practice, and employee and team management practice, that enable realizing those goals, and for all of the various individuals who have to actually carry out this work and as non-managerial hands-on employees and as managers of all levels and throughout the table of organization, and for the functional teams that they work within in doing this, and for the organization as a whole.

I began this series with an initial orienting discussion of an historical default management model in Part 1 that I then began to elaborate and build from in subsequent installments. I begin with that same historical default management approach from this point in this overall discussion too. So for clarity and continuity of discussion I begin this installment by briefly restating that starting point paradigmatic model as a foundation point for developing this and subsequent installments to come (as drawn from Part 1 and as expanded upon in light of this series’ subsequent more What and How installments.) Note: I specifically recommend you’re reviewing Part 1 for its orienting details, noting that I at least briefly began acknowledging the need of a Who side of this overall topic there too, when first setting up this series and when I began to more fully discuss and develop its What and How details.

The historical default management model: The default model is one of at least seeming organizational simplicity in which individual managers directly and comprehensively oversee a specific group of direct reports, holding overall responsibility for their activities and their work performance on the job, and for carrying out management-level personnel related activities on their behalf and certainly on matters related to the performance of their specific teams in their own areas of responsibility.
• This is an approach that in its simplest form can lead to tables of organization and patterns of management oversight that are fairly simple and lean, and certainly for whatever specific overall business scale that has been achieved. But as a default approach – and one with complications and variations in how it is implemented that are not well considered, that can and often does mean increased inefficiencies and reduced business effectiveness and reduced overall realizable business potential too.
• It is a management approach where individual employees report to one supervising manager for essentially all of their work activities and on essentially all work-related matters for which they would have to report at all, as just noted above. And as the business grows, this modular one team and one designated manager system expands out, and generally in a completely linear growth, more of the same pattern. And concurrently with that, simply following this default management model means that the table of organization and its structural complexity grow out too, and in a one size fits all manner, and as the overall employee head count and supervisory management head count rise too.
• This means not identifying or allowing for or accommodating particular organizational needs that might arise in different areas of the business where differing approaches might at least more locally make more sense for them, given their areas of functional responsibilities and the make-up of their teams. And this momentum and with time tradition-driven inflexibility means there is at most going to be limited capacity for these systems to adapt and change – as there is little is any room for testing out or even just fully considering alternatives.
• Another reason why this is called a default model, and one that is crucially important here, is that it tends to be all but automatically followed, and with its only real variations included in it coming from how individual managers carry out their duties – automatically and often by the default of following the management practices and approaches, and the communications and information sharing approaches and styles that they themselves have experienced in their own work lives leading up to now, starting from their own earliest work experiences. Managers are in effect on their own in this and following a set playbook, and they tend to fall back on what they know in carrying this out and without anything in the way of systematic review of what management approaches they actually follow – as long as at least their basic task goals are being achieved.
• That point in fact points to the one key area in these business systems where variety can and actually does enter into their management practices, and in how an organization is actually run day to day when it is run in accordance with them. And I add that that type of ad hoc, local rule diversity in style and approach can create both business systems friction and business inefficiencies, and particularly in larger more geographically spread out organizations where leadership and management fiefdoms can arise through business growth and expansion.
• As a next crucially important initial consideration here, as I turn to more fully consider the Human Resources and Personnel side of this, this model also tends to focus essentially entirely within the business – and even when that organization has become critically dependent on the effective functioning of supply chain and other business-to-business collaborations that it has had to enter into in order to remain as competitively effective as it can be. This is important here, as a failure to connect the dots in communicating and managing across the organizational boundaries of more complex, larger systems (as represented by supply chains), leads to disconnects and inefficiencies.
• Businesses have to be able to work together smoothly and seamlessly in their business-to-business collaborations, if they are to achieve the full realizable positive value out of them that should be possible out of them. This holds true as they each perform their half to this work on a day-to-day and a transaction-by-transaction basis and through employee and manager decisions and actions taken – as determined at least in guiding outline by whatever system of management and leadership practice are actually, actively in place in the businesses involved. To be clear there, I am not writing about in-principle, or on-paper business philosophies or practices; I am writing entirely in terms of what is actually done and whether that means following more established in practice processes, or deviating from them into exception handling attempts.

I have intentionally outlined this selective summary of the What and How, at least in part from a Who perspective and I will expand on that in this Human Resources and Personnel, and this hands-on functional area management and leadership perspective in installments to come, starting with the next one. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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