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Baker takes on eight dysfunctional people management practices originating from the scientific management and offers practical solutions for changing these practices and increasing organizational agility.

Agile is the new black. Every business now has to be adaptive, nimble and ready to pivot – managers have to be comfortable with ambiguity and constantly ready for change. And yet…

While agility is regarded as essential for competitive advantage, most organizations are still unthinkingly applying people management practices, rooted in Frederick Taylor’s scientific management philosophy of the early 20th century, designed to ensure consistency and efficiency on production lines but which actively prevent the sort of creativity and flexibility needed in the modern workplace.

100 years of scientific management has led to the creation of eight performance myths. Myths that impede the agility necessary to compete in the age of the knowledge worker but which are so instinctively embedded in management psyche that they go unchallenged despite the fact that the changing world of work has rendered them dysfunctional and counterproductive.

Through case studies and examples Baker demonstrates how the right workplace culture for promoting and applying agile decision-making consists of eight values shared by employer and employee – values that are polar opposite of the values and assumptions of traditional management styles. A new psychological contract that enables the collaborative working relationship necessary for agility to flourish.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

The Agile Enterprise

Frontmatter

1. Profit Measures the Past—Agility Predicts the Future

Abstract
Trevor Jones set up a meeting with Michelle Williams. They are plant managers in a large manufacturing business; both run the same operation at different locations. Trevor has been to Michelle’s plant several times but hadn’t really paid close attention to what they were doing there. He of course knew they made the same products, but it’s difficult to rationalize the gap in performance between the two sites.
Tim Baker

2. The Characteristics of Agility

Abstract
Customers want constant improvement in the products they purchase. Many retailers strive for outstanding service and attractive store designs, but few go to Apple’s lengths in incessantly improving every detail.
Tim Baker

3. Seven Dimensions of Agile Performance

Abstract
The Australasian Legal Practice Management Association’s president, Andrew Barnes, recently claimed that many law firms view technology as a threat instead of a solution. Although 97 per cent of the association’s members have made some kind of investment in technology, 73 per cent believe it is responsible for either a positive or negative change in their firm.
Tim Baker

Myths Blocking Agile Performance

Frontmatter

4. Management Myth # 1—Job Specification Improves Performance

Abstract
When I left school as a “baby boomer,” my parents encouraged me to consider an occupation where I could specialize and so have job security. Their reasoning was well-intended, simple, but misguided: If you can find a niche where you can use a specialized set of skills, you can define a market segment for yourself. This line of thinking was predicated on the stable and relatively predictable, preglobalized marketplace. The logic of my parent’s argument no longer applies; the rules have fundamentally changed.
Tim Baker

5. Management Myth # 2—Quality Systems and Processes Guarantee Good Outcomes

Abstract
Mary was becoming more and more frustrated. Her bank decided to stop a special arrangement she had with her previous bank manager. This arrangement allowed Mary to undertake certain transactions expeditiously. This arrangement was different, however, to standard bank policy. Due to the bank lacking a system to record such an arrangement, Erica, the new staff member refused to honor Mary’s previous arrangement with her bank manager.
Tim Baker

6. Management Myth # 3—The Job Description Helps the Employee Understand Their Organizational Role

Abstract
The longer an employee works in a company, the more likely it is that they assume responsibilities beyond their original job description. What’s more, as the employee climbs through the ranks, chances are that they have job duties that aren’t replicated elsewhere in the company.
Tim Baker

7. Management Myth # 4—A Business is Best Organized around Functions

Abstract
The newly appointed CEO, Samantha, identifies as her first major challenge, the imperative to break down the boundaries between departments in the government agency she now leads. Samantha observes the agency is organized around several “silos”—it’s a typical bureaucracy. Even at the senior management level, this is evident. The most important cross-functional team—the senior management team—is disjointed and not operating as a team. Managers arrive at executive meetings with their functional “hat” on and fail to consider issues from the perspective of the overall organization. Samantha knows she has a problem and has her work cut out in breaking down these traditional departmental boundaries and the rivalries they breed.
Tim Baker

8. Management Myth # 5—A Satisfied Employee is a Productive Employee

Abstract
Stanford University researcher Mark Lepper and his team conducted a significant research study in the early 1970s, concerned with the impact of extrinsic rewards on performance. Specifically, Lepper was interested in whether prizes influence behavior in young children.
Tim Baker

9. Management Myth # 6—A Loyal Employee is an Asset to the Business

Abstract
“These three employees have demonstrated outstanding loyalty to our company,” claimed Jim. “They’ve been working here for 25 years. I think we should reward them at the Christmas party.”
Tim Baker

10. Management Myth # 7—A Technically Superior Workforce is a Pathway to a High-Performing Business

Abstract
Marcia faces a dilemma. One of her five production teams is performing well below her expectations. She ponders the array of options available to her to improve the team’s performance. Is the poor performance due to a lack of technical know-how, she wonders. Could the problem be non-technical, such as a lack of team work? Could the substandard performance be about the team’s inability to solve some of the challenging problems they face from the company’s demanding customers? So many questions to consider.
Tim Baker

11. Management Myth # 8—Employees Can’t Be Trusted with Sensitive Information

Abstract
Rachel received a phone call from an irate customer. “Your last invoice overcharged me on my telephone account by $149.90. I’m not happy about it and want it fixed straight away!” demanded Charlie Robertson, the fuming customer.
Tim Baker

The Right Culture for Agile Performance

Frontmatter

12. A New Psychological Contract for Managing Agile Performance

Abstract
Maryanne, a new employee, was being inducted into the company and trained by Marco, a long-time member of a customer service team. As the new member of the team, Maryanne appreciated Marco’s experience and knowledge. She quickly gained a reasonable level of confidence in her new role. One thing she also rapidly learned was that a key performance measure was how quickly visitors were processed, not how well their inquiries were handled.
Tim Baker

Backmatter

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