The IT-driven management revolution

It’s easy to forget how radically different our lives were before computers and portable digital devices

The Information Technology (IT) industry has helped birth a new culture of management and leadership. How so? Digital technology requires and attracts highly skilled professionals who require ‘flatter,’ more collaborative organizations to be productive. By contrast, in the old post-Industrial Revolution hierarchical command structure, employees followed commands mechanically. Boring task repetition was the defining experience.

Early 20th Century assembly line automobile manufacturing exemplified this command hierarchical structure in which direction came from above, with minimal feedback from those doing work on the line. –However, as computers came into wider use in the 1980s, businesses began to innovate ‘quality circles,’ then high performing teams, etc., in response to a greater need for detailed feedback–and direction–from those who actually create and deliver products and services.

Driving factors

It’s easy to forget how radically different our lives were before computers and portable digital devices. Among the many benefits–computers have empowered us, democratizing’ our lives by connecting us instantly with virtually limitless information, including access to a wealth of proprietary data we rely on to perform out daily work.
Business is now completely dependent on digital technology. Previously manual processes have been automated, requiring stronger skill sets, including analytical and decision-making competencies, among employees.

From the beginning, the IT industry was at the forefront of this revolution. From the garages of Silicon Valley in the 1970s emerged a collaboration-based culture in which teams of pioneers laid the foundation for entirely new ways of developing products and providing services.

During my involvement in 80+ projects during my time as Project Manager at OWDT, we have incorporated IT-based management principles as follows–

  • Power–From its inception, OWDT has had a decentralized, flexible structure. We see each and every team member as critical in determining outcomes. Information flows between employees, regardless of rank. All our employees are highly skilled professionals who are capable of working effectively both individually and in groups. Major decisions are made collaboratively, in a safely respectful, professional atmosphere. We have weekly meetings in which we discuss current issues freely and openly working within a flexible agenda.
  • Information–In traditional organizations, employees used to carve out ‘information domains’ that they guarded vigilantly. This created dautning inefficiencies and lowered employee motivation. By contrast, we at OWDT understand that the only way to build employee competence and to remain competitive is to share knowledge openly. That said, given ever-present cyber security threats, some information still needs to remain proprietary. I’ll discuss guidelines for determining this distinction in a future blog.
  • Listening and Encouraging Suggestions–I continually interact with all members of the OWDT team because we know from experience how critical this is to creating positive outcomes. It also suits my personal style beautifully. We routinely exchange information using key elements of the Precision Question/Precision Answer system outlined by Dr. Ghyst in recent blogs. This helps us stay comfortably focused on critical outcomes.