20 December 2009

No One Likes to be Managed - What's Next?

Management is destined to be skewered by the shish kabob of self-starting, self-organization.

That no one likes to be managed isn't a notion, rather it is a thesis supported by data. To test this assertion, take note of the search phrases Google suggests when you enter the phrase
my manager is a
Bully, idiot, jerk, and control freak are what Google suggests. Google's suggestions are tallied and ranked based on the terms most commonly searched by your co-workers (and your direct reports).


From the flaming grill of my corporate-vagabond experience, my unsubstantiated notions are:
  • Humans are largely a self-organizing species;
  • Some humans are doers;
  • Some humans are controllers;
  • Doers get stuff done;
  • Controllers are counter-productive; and it's
  • Better to be a facilitator or coach than a controller
The groups I work with day-to-day (i.e., independent contractors, employees, and consultants) cringe at the first sniff of scripted ceremony, retrospective platitudes, or condescending praise. Scripted ceremony, retrospective platitudes, and condescending praise are deep-seated in the DNA of the controller's marbled fat.

If my livelihood was based on controlling rather than doing, I would be concerned about my economic viability. If you're a facilitator, road-block clearer, or a coach, you've nothing to worry about. But, pure controllers are the excess fat to be trimmed in coming years.

What's Next?

Year's end, predictably, fertilizes scads of predictions. I take all predictions with a grain of salt. That said, I can't stop from making some forecasting about the workplace.
The groundhog is like most other prophets; it delivers its prediction and then disappears. ~Bill Vaughn
Following are my predictions for the decade of the 2010s
  • The 2010s are for self-starters, self-organizers, and the self-employed. 
  • The 2010s will see the growth of online professional communities. Professional communities will replace labor unions, providing economies of scale for group services and rates (collective bargaining) heretofore available only to large organizations. These communities will be networks of people brought together online and focused on professional interests (e.g.,  I moderate two professional groups on LinkedIn, Twin Cities Software Consultants and Agile .Net Practitioners. These groups have grown steadily in 2009 to 615 local members for Twin Cities Software Consultants  and 1,626 worldwide members for Agile .Net Practitioners).
  • Economic growth in the 2010s will be fueled by bands of small communities (1-100) in professional partnerships that will compete head-to-head with corporate behemoths. Success, big or small, will be measured by how fast your community can adapt.
  • Myopic corporations will be blind-sided by the open source movement in the 2010s.