Thursday, January 2, 2014

Digital Shift: A Holistic Management Style

A Holistic Management is a Systems Thinking Approach to Managing the Health of Business Ecosystem.

 At industrial era, majority of organizations have been operated via such classic management, which is based on a tacit assumption that organizations can be compared to machines. Consequently, divide-and-conquer strategies are promoted both in organizational design as well as task responsibility or accountability distribution. As Peter Drucker stated: classic management is about doing things right, it isn’t about doing the right things… that’s leadership

Because of classic management, the business units often do not work in collaboration, as they are driven by a culture of silos, they fight for limited resource in order to do what they believe is “locally” right instead of working together in order to do what is “globally right”. This is also sustained by a tacit assumption that accountability cannot be giving to a group but only to a single person. This is to be expected because most “classic” management principles date from the industrial revolution. The consequence of all of this is that “classic” management doesn’t take a systemic approach to management 

While the characteristics of digitalization are hyper-connectivity, hyper-complexity and interdependence; the classic management may not best fit to toning business agility –the business capability to response to the opportunities and risks, to ensure the organization as whole is optimal than the sum of pieces. Holistic management (a Greek word meaning all, whole, entire, total) is a systems thinking approach to managing resources, recognizing initiatives which take a comprehensive, anticipatory, design approach to radically advance human well being and the health of business ecosystems

Can EA become the tool to transform the classic management style into holistic management style? "Classic management" is a significant part of the root cause to silo thinking, not because of its modernist metaphors but because it’s all about power and control. One way of looking at this is that EA is a difficult space to be in because it’s counter cultural to "classic management" and it is "holistic" in its approach. However, such a perspective is not compatible with the simplistic reductionism implied by some popular EA frameworks and practices today. Only high-mature EA, which is truly the super glue between strategy and execution, can become an enabler in transforming management style to run digital business more holistically.

 What is interesting is how resilient the classic management has been, from industrial age to information age, now digital age, from business modernism to post-modernism, it is still there today, which management style is best fit may also depend on the sector and nature of business. However, we are at the transformational time with more radical digitalization, is it also the right time for the management shift: from classic industry management style to the digital holistic management style!


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