On Saturday, shortly after I proudly posted a blog and a tweet about my upcoming webcast on January 11, 2011 entitled “The Death and Reinvention of Management: Implications for HR”, I received this broadside from a colleague (Jon Husband) on Twitter:
RT @stevedenning <WEBCAST The Death and Reinvention of Management: http://bit.ly/hTa2Tj > mrktg @ its worst ... shd be "Evolution of Mgt"
“Marketing at its worst!”
At least, Jon doesn’t beat around the bush!
As it happens, I've spent the last 18 months trying out different titles to describe the complex set of changes I am talking about, which amounts to a reinvention of management. This is something quite different from the way most established organizations are run. What to call it?
I found that anything like "the evolution of management", as Jon suggests, puts people to sleep because it doesn’t convey the depth and scale of the change. Yada, yada, yada, is the reaction. What else is new?
As a result, I began exploring titles that suggest something more drastic, which also happens to reflect the substance of what I am saying. This isn’t hype. This is not “Jesus CEO” or “Seven Steps to Corporate Nirvana.” This is a set of deep changes for most organizations.
In the end, for my new book, we went with the title of The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century
At that point, I was still getting pushback on the idea that management was "broken". Indeed, a number of my followers took me to task for being so negative. There was a lively discussion to that effect here on this blog last April.
More recently more and more books are being published that also talk in these more drastic terms. Professor Julian Birkinshaw of the London Business School tells us that management has “failed”. According to Alan Murray of the Wall Street Journal, we are looking at “the end of management”, while CEO Jo Owen has written about “the death of management”. Gary Hamel tells us that “Equipping organizations to tackle the future would require a management revolution no less momentous than the one that spawned modern industry.” John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison in The Power of Pull talk about “the big shift from push to pull”, while Professor Ranjay Gulati in Reorganize for Resilience talks about a basic shift from inside-out to outside-in.
As a result, these days, I am not getting pushback on the idea that management is broken. Indeed, some of the people who were attacking me back in April are now leading the charge for “reinvention” with a huge online conference to that effect.
In November, my blog post with the title "the death--and reinvention--of management" created an explosion of interest. In fact, apart from my Chinese wikileaker post, it is my most popular post ever. And for an upcoming workshop in Washington, the switch to this title resulted in a flurry of registrations.
So in abstract, the title may look like a bad marketing idea. But the evidence that I have so far indicates the opposite.
But nothing is set in concrete. I continue to explore different ways of communicating the complex set of ideas in the book.
I welcome all feedback as the scene continues to evolve. Keep it coming!