Wednesday, January 11, 2006

People Management theories under the spotlight

The following management theories (and many others) are used by large and wealthy companies to assess, select and improve the behavior and performance of their human resources - McGregor, Maslow, Myers Briggs, Belbin, Hertzberg, McCelland, Benziger, DISC.

The dictionary beside me defines ‘Behavior’ as ‘one’s manner of behavior or acting’ and “the action or reaction of a material under given circumstances”. Also ‘Motive’ is defined as “something that causes a person to act, prompting to act” and ‘Motivate’ – “to provide with a motive”

In order to understand human behavior it seems that we have to get a grip on motivation. What causes us to act or gives us the motive to act seems to vary between individuals. Is it a conscious or subconscious act? Is it a base need or a higher order need? Is it an instinct developed by nature or by nurture?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Management theories or fads

Apparently creativity comes from a 3 stage process of preparation, incubation and inspiration. I am in need of some inspiration. I have spent the last year in preparatory reading far and wide (see post below) about the people management area and in particular in relation to improving our assessment, selection and development of individuals and teams on projects. I spent the christmas holidays trying not to ski like 'Paddington Bear' in Chamonix while incubating these ideas. And now in search of inspiration I hope to bring this together with my experiences around the world into a 'unified theory of people management' no less.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A bibliography of modern people management

I am concerned about the wealth of scientific knowledge that is underused or misused in our modern management theories. Freudian or blank slate thinking has had an eerily religious effect on current theories to the point that they are seriously in need of modernization. Scientists and writers from Dawkins to Wilson have been leaping forward on the shoulders of the results of the Genome project but our outdated people management theories remain unmoved as if cast in stone. It is time to dust off the sheets and submit these theories to the rigors of science.

I have reviewed the following writers, thinkers and scientists for their take on the world and will try to incorporate their ideas into a fresher look at people management.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Essential Difference

Simon Baron Cohen writes a solid scientific, well researched book about the differences between the male and female brains. He notes that key differences are their relative abilities to empathize (female) and systemize (male). The average male appears to be worse at empathizing than the average female. In the extreme male brain systemizing leads to Aspergers syndrome or Autism.
Therefore he concludes that the female brain is predominantly hard wired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard wired for understanding and systemizing.(building systems).

The future of people management on projects

Work is carried out in organizations by two means, by operations or by projects. In many organizations this distinction is not clearly recognized with a large middle-ground of un tracked work called ‘stuff’ or ‘ just doing it’. A very simple difference between the two is the one used by large banks called RTB (run the bank) for operational work and CTB (change the bank) for project work.

Companies like Cadbury Schweppes, Goldman Sachs and British Airways primarily make money from operations. While companies like Accenture, Bovis and Arup primarily make money from projects (sometimes called engagements). As you might expect world-class companies realize that in order to maintain and improve their position they need to be excellent in both areas.

Does the Genome project change everything?

The Human Genome Project (HGP), completed in 2003, was a 13-year project coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. The project goals were to determine the complete sequence of the 3 billion DNA subunits (bases), identify all human genes (approx 30,000), and make them accessible for further biological study.

The research projects based on the results of this project are providing astounding new information on traits and behaviour. Initially thought to comprise more than 100,000 genes on our 46 chromosomes we now know we have approximately 24,000 genes. Only 1.5% of which differentiates us from our nearest cousin the chimpanzee and only 0.1% differentiates us from any other human on the planet.

A common and useful analogy is a book. Matt Ridley in his book ‘Genome’ imagines that your Genome is a book. There are 23 chapters called chromosomes (pairs). Each chapter contains several thousand stories called Genes. Each story is made of paragraphs called ‘Exons’ and ‘Introns’. Each paragraph is made of words called ‘Codons’. Each word is made of letters called ‘Bases’. There are 1 billion words in this book.

Future of People Management

2006 London - This short blog is to reflect my thoughts on various theories developed over 25 years of international travel, workings and readings. The contents reflect my current view of the state of people management theories as applied and taught in project management. The developments that have resulted from the sequencing of the Genome have enabled a more scientific understanding of human behaviour and this has not been reflected in team selection, appraisal or development.