“Industrial age” management – that which has been in place since the Industrial Revolution – models all kinds of work endeavours as factories. Managers must set direction, define processes and achieve consistency of outcome. Staff must demonstrate competency and deliver what they are told to deliver, otherwise they will be “performance managed”.
In contrast, leading proponents of new styles of management are arguing for ‘autonomy over automatons’. This is particularly prescient in a time when many are predicting that robots and artificial intelligence technologies will take jobs away from humans.
In his recent post, Simon Terry argues that the new role of the manager is not to reduce variation in the work and increase consistency, it is quite the opposite.
“Too many managers can be replaced with robots because of the predictable nature of the algorithm at the heart of their work. Worse, those who suppress variation in their teams will be left behind in the disruptive economies ahead.”