Cutter Consortium: What Will Replace Command and Control?

InsightaaS: Cutter Consortium is an IT advisory firm focused on software development and agile project management. Cutter’s blog site site presents “opinions on and reactions to what’s happening in business technology.” In this post, Brian Dooley, a Senior Consultant with Cutter Consortium’s Data Insight & Social BI practice, offers an interesting perspective on how management practices must and can evolve beyond ‘command and control’ to models if they are to keep pace with changes in the workplace. Dooley highlights several potential sources of guidance/insight, including Agile software development, management of complex outsourcing initiatives, and management in creative industries like advertising. The integration of these models will likely be complex, but is necessary to respond to current requirements and opportunities: as Dooley notes, though, while “herding cats” may be difficult, “just try to get the sheep to walk across the rooftops!”

Current changes in the workplace are creating innumerable challenges for management, and these challenges are poorly addressed by the command-and-control techniques of a previous generation. Today’s employees are increasingly knowledge workers, occupied in workgroups in which they are expected to have considerable autonomy. This is vital in the ability to respond to rapidly changing situations and to create innovations. The clearest indication of the new requirements is seen today in Agile software development, which has developed a body of practices to handle the requirements of constant change and reduced ability to predict final requirements. But all knowledge workers face similar issues, and these are exacerbated by increasing virtuality, weakening boundaries between personal and work lives, cross-functional teams, and multiple dotted-line management relationships.

Management needs to handle the emerging environment so that activities remain focused and in line with strategic objectives without destroying individual initiative, creative response, and the ability to respond to changes in an agile manner. This is a tall order, and its difficulty has been widely demonstrated…

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