Management development is often ineffective because it focuses on the wrong content and uses the wrong methods
Huge investments with questionable results
Companies spend tens of billions of dollars ever year on management development. Through in-house programs, business schools and coaching. To what avail?
For the most part, these investments don’t lead to better organisational performance. And companies still struggle with the depth of their leadership bench.
Senior executives continue to say their organisations aren’t very effective in developing future leaders.
Programs mostly focus on technical business knowledge and personal competencies. Both are valuable, but they are not management.
Management is a social technology. It is the technology of human accomplishment. Its core task is building and running organisations that work. Organisations that are fit for human beings and fit for our 21st century challenges.
Analytical business skills (strategy, finance, marketing and so on), personal competencies (eg, giving feedback, communicating clearly), however useful, are not enough.
Management development tends to happen in the abstract - separated from the actual work managers are engaged with at any given moment in time.
It’s too much focused on analytical skills and is often content with disseminating knowledge. And this typically happens within specialist silos, ignoring the messy complexity of managerial practice.
Finally it ignores the systems perspective. It sees people as the problem, while 95% of performance is actually explained by the system within which these people operate.
Creating effective management development programs
Management, by definition, integrates many different perspectives. It’s how joint human accomplishment comes about. Management development must likewise integrate business functions, technology, leadership and human behaviour. The integrating function is management’s core task of building organisations as enablers of human performance.
In many ways, management can be seen as profession. That means there’s a body of knowledge on which good practice relies. As a relatively young discipline, management’s body of knowledge is still developing. Nevertheless we have a lot of sound management theory in different areas such as innovation, strategy, systems thinking or human performance. Effective management development is based on such sound theory.
Embedded in practice
Effective management development is connected to practice. In management, knowledge is useless when it is not applied to create results. Cases and exercises are fine to help understand a concept, but real learning and development only happens when theory is applied to real work.
Management development that works
I can help you design and develop management develop programs that actually work. I can also teach, yet we might also train your own team to do that and/or include third parties.
Semi-standard, one day workshop
Gain a deeper understanding of strengths and weaknesses of your current management development approach. Develop hypotheses for how you might improve its effectiveness and business impact.
Work together as part of a larger project, to design, develop and run management development programs. Following a co-created, fully customised approach.
"Management is likely the least efficient activity in your organisation"
Management is perhaps the most important social function in the world. It that deserves utmost professionalism and we must not take the education of managers lightly.
In fact, we need to fix management education - and merge it with development. Most of what goes for management education today, is really business education sprinkled with a dose of leadership. That’s certainly true for business schools.
In corporate settings, technical skills and a range of personal competencies (such as listening, giving feedback, communicating) often dominate. Neither offers a holistic perspective and the heart of management as the social technology of human accomplishment is largely ignored. And when it is not, it tends to echo approaches developed during the industrial revolution, most of which are incapable of coping with our 21st century challenges.
This helps explain why management, as practiced today, is not working for far too many people and organisations. Innovation and growth seem elusive and companies continue to play the efficiency game, trying to cost-cut their way to prosperity.
I believe we need to re-think management development. A good program must...
...understand and strengthen management as its own discipline, charged with the task of enabling joint human performance
...integrate management, leadership and functional business skills for a holistic, systemic view of work and organisations
...teach what is known to be effective based on the best evidence and theory available
...focus on developing competence, contextualised practical application and impact
...have as its primary objective to help managers do a better job as responsible stewards of their organisations – not just get a better job