Future of Management in the digital age

Posted on Sep 21 2016 - 8:36pm by In-house Geek

 

Like never before, the world we presently live in is moving very fast. So fast that even the sun when observed in the open, appears to ‘rise’ and ‘fall’ faster than it ought. We have nicknamed this hi-speed world, with a real time Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the Digital Age. How can we fit in and resonate with its fast pace if we are not mentally alert and even think beyond its timing?

According to the African ancients, no other animal foresaw the future like the tortoise. Very long ago it took upon itself a mobile house or a shell for a covering. While others like the peacock and the lion chose colourful feathers and furs. The tortoise felt within itself that soon the earth would be overpopulated living no space for their housing. It happened as it said. The forest and beasts were no more, save those like the dog and goat who gave up there wild and free lives to leave with men as slaves, and few others that somehow got shelter elsewhere, including the tortoise.

Our world is moving faster than we think. The story of the tortoise is an Igbo fairy tale only told for the lesson that could be drawn from it. But unlike a fable, the reality of our digital age has dawned on us. Like a baby learning to utter a word, older men now re-adjust themselves and learn to adapt. It appears that only the tortoise of this age can truly stand out as rare gems and subsequently attain the outstanding status people like Muhammad Ali achieved in their time.

Fitting into this digital age is not about mere survival, it is about managing oneself. For one to manage himself, he will learn to take control of the greater part of himself. To me, this is the true liberation many yearn for. This noble task requires great mastery and effort for one to look deep in himself and understand how his system operates. If this is successful, he will get to learn more about his inert competency. This is close to what Physicists call the Potential Energy. Potential –in the sense of its dormancy but capability of being useful anytime, and Energy –in the sense of its ability. It is this ability that defines our competency.

Peter Drucker wrote:

“We will have to learn to develop ourselves. We will have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution.”

It is a privilege to read and cite Peter F. Drucker’s works as I will do more in this essay. He is the father of modern management and undoubtedly one of the greatest Business Thinkers that ever lived1.

Manobots: The digital man

Manobots, a funny term I use to identify some of us today whose life has been totally clouded by technology. Soon, man will be no more and only manobots will take over our place.

Can we time how fast we sail in this digital age? Today, ICT is everywhere. In 2014, the number of internet users in Nigeria was 61 million, giving us a fair share of 2.3% of world’s internet users and the only African country to make the top ten list.2

Technology is taking over all that we do and Africa isn’t left behind. It is no longer fashionable to man humans in our stores in order to track records when inventory software can do it even better. Robotic science is getting more sophisticated by the day. Perhaps soon everyone will have in their homes intelligent robots that can even blush! 3

These all begs the question: What is the place of the millennial man in the digital age? I learn a lot from YouTube videos without paying any live tutor. I find the videos more human than reading dead letters from an e-book. Yet I must recognise the fact that people had to make and upload those videos in the first place before anyone could remotely access it. So it is, in anything computing. Peter F. Drucker would say that the “Computer is a moron.” It is garbage in, garbage out.

It is now very clear that man will always control this digital age, I shall concentrate more on how we can develop ourselves and effectively contribute the best.

T.I.M.E dissection…

Over the years as an ICT officer and a webmaster, I have developed for myself what I call the TIME concept. It’s been effective with eternal management principles developed by other business thinkers embedded into it.

“TIME” there is an acronym that represents the keys to unlocking one’s potentials. I take it to represent:

T-        Time Management

I-         Innovation and Ideas

M-      Motivation and Interest

E-        Enlightenment

 

Managing your Time

“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.” –Peter Drucker.

The internet is supposedly built to make work easier and faster, hence save time. Don’t you think so too? But a friend once told me that this is the biggest lie of the 21st century. As a web master managing several web properties, I think I have a first-hand understanding of this.

Shortly after I launched Jobiver –a Nigerian job search website, I got an unprecedented increase in the number of subscribers, and in traffic. 6 months later, the rate dwindled. So I made an effective use of E-mail marketing and social media alerts. The result was astonishing –My number of page view increased by three times!

Such alerts can distract the reader, make him do what the developer wants him to do and hence kill his time! So the Knowledge worker must device effective time management skill while the Business thinker in addition must learn also how to gain other people’s time. Time is the unit of wealth.

Without an effective Time management skill, life in this digital world would be as easy as that of the gladiators in ancient Rome. We are already slaves to the technology we use. We now are trained to obey the red-light notification call from our Blackberry phones. Paper is almost dead. When we read E-books from our Tablets, who are we to ignore the distracting Facebook and other social media notifications?

Surviving Internet Distractions…

I once attended a digital marketing conference where it was advised that all business managers should have a dedicated monitor for Twitter feeds. Unfortunately, social media isn’t only killing our time but it’s stealing away our emotion –the unique thing that differentiates us from machines. Instead of hugging a friend, we hug our phones by texting. We straighten up our face and text a LOL or a smiley J instead of laughing out real loud…Pause reading this now and laugh out loud to see how beautiful and fun being human can be!

Many today suffer from cyber-sickness and loneliness syndrome –A condition of having about a thousand social media followers with no single real life close friend.

Soon machines will take over blue-collar jobs and every worker will be a knowledge worker. The millennial who will most likely work up till the next fifty years must learn to save himself from internet distractions in order to remain human and stand out even in the next generation.

Knowing when to turn these notifications off is certainly the key that I use.

Drucker is right for unless time is managed, nothing else can be!

 

Innovation and Ideas…

“Older people sit down and ask, ‘What is it?’ but the boy asks, ‘What can I do with it?” –Steve Jobs

Drucker in Managing Oneself book wrote a powerful line on ideas, He wrote:

“… bulldozers move mountains; ideas show where bulldozers should go to work

Some time ago, I had the idea of building a unique Crowd source-funding website where people can pledge for a cause and receive donations or meet potential investors from the public. No such website is known in Nigeria till date. The idea is a huge one and not beyond my capability. In fact, it is already moving great mountains, but only in my mind.

Unlike the former example, last year I launched Jobiver.com. Six months later, I have already got 43,000 plus loyal followers on Twitter. Certainly, the work on the mountain is literally in progress!

Drucker is reputedly known for asking the right questions. I am learning that too, so I ask:

Where are Drucker’s trucks? Where are his bulldozers?!

Ideas rule the world; Entrepreneurs create them. Entrepreneurs and not just thinkers or philosophers. The digital age is global and most competitive of all ages. We live in a world where people’s ideas and projects are no longer confined to their respective regions. For example, because Mark Zuckerberg in the United States had built Facebook, people in South Africa or Austria who have similar dreams even before him would have to reinvent their ideas or simply drop it. This is very similar to what Drucker called Planned abandonment.

 

“What has already happened that will create the future?”

—Peter F. Drucker, Managing in a Time of Great Change, 1995

 

To successfully manage oneself today, the digital age needs fast thinkers, unique ideas and quick implementers. In fact it needs just one person: The “Bulldozoic-Business Thinker”, permit me to use those words.

I have been to China twice on business trips for my company. I have seen where start-ups are grown into tall skyscrapers. In 2014, I visited TenCent inc. headquarters in Shenzhen. Tencent owns the famous WeChat and QQ mobile chat applications. A picture I took in front of their towers reminds me that digital ideas can grow that tall. I assure you too, the reader that ideas in 21st century, when effectively implemented can truly grow tall.

Bruce Rosenstein, a Drucker influenced writer in his book “Create your future the Peter Drucker way” wrote (my emphasis):

Entrepreneurs sense or create needs that consumers never knew

They had. The best innovators and entrepreneurs make the future a

Different, better place from their creations, products, or services.”

I have drawn an illustration in the next page that will make the concept of innovation and idea appear more sensible and more rewarding to you.

 

Future of management

Future of management

 

Peter Drucker and Business Plans:

Businesses should make enough money that can run it. But the reader should not mistake the graphics above to mean that the primary aim of any Business idea is to make money. Note the happy girl that comes before the money.

Peter Drucker in his writings maintains that the happy customer must be the ultimate aim of any Business. The same applies in this digital age. In his book: Delivering value to Customers, he wrote: “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.”

 

…Motivation and Interest

“I never race for records. The motivation to try to beat the record is not enough to continue. You have to enjoy it.” –Valentino Rossi

In his essay, Managing Oneself, Drucker raised some of the most important questions for self-examination and management. They are:

  1. What are my strengths?
  2. How do I work?
  3. What are my values?
  4. Where do I belong?
  5. What can I contribute?

These questions are not easy to answer as perhaps expected. An in-depth look into one’s being and life timeline is required. To do this, a comprehensive understanding of what motivates you and your interests is the key.

Using myself as an example, I began playing with the framework of websites as early as 2003. By 2005, I had already mastered <html> coding and in the same year I hosted my first website which I built from the scratch and which is still live today.

Motivation is a powerful thing. Merriam-Webster defines it as:

A force or influence that causes someone to do something

The dictionary also defined Interest as:

A feeling of wanting to learn more about something or to be involved in something

Or:

“Something that a person enjoys learning about or doing

Understanding and developing this force or influence, or this inert feeling will naturally place someone in his comfort zone at his work place and make him perform better. This is what Valentino Rossi, a multiple MotoGP champion, implied. For example, although I read Physics in the university, I took up the position of an ICT officer in a big wholesale and retail company with chains of stores spread across Nigeria. I enjoy my work because it is my line of interest.

What motivates someone and his interests is a natural pointer to understanding where his strength lies, and the other 4 Drucker questions. It is by no means the only way but it is certainly a vital step. I was obeying Drucker’s age old managemental philosophy when I took up the ICT officer job. In his 1999 Managing Oneself essay, Drucker wrote:

Go to work on acquiring the skills and knowledge you need to fully realize your strengths

It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.

It doesn’t end there…

It will also help in managing oneself after the first 40 years of work as a knowledge worker. This is a very important and last phase of one’s life. Like Drucker said, “You must begin long before you enter it”. This is true even in this digital age and to achieve this, one’s interests and motivational factors must be considerably developed right from the early stage of life.

“Where you will sit when you are old shows where you stood in youth.” –A Yoruba (Nigeria) Proverb.

 

Enlightenment

“Being educated today means to have learnt to learn and it means to continue to learn” –Peter Drucker

 

Being enlightened means having knowledge or understanding. Peter Drucker predicted the demise of blue-collar jobs or jobs that require more of physical work. In his 1959 book “The Landmarks of Tomorrow”, he predicted the rise of what he called the Knowledge worker. This prediction has never been truer and more global than this digital age.

I follow Bill Gates’ blog posts. Just very recently, he shook me and indeed the world when he wrote:

“Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success.” 3

Being enlightened like Drucker said in the headline quote above that I took from his book “Manage yourself, and then your Company”, is a lifetime project. No one can claim to know enough in this knowledge worker age. An Illiterate is no longer one who can’t read or write, everybody does these days. An illiterate is someone who has refused to learn. So a PhD. Holder that has refused to update his 1980s record can be considered an illiterate today. He would most likely view things only from a perspective. Of course if one’s only tool is a hammer, he will see every problem as a nail.

“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.” –Drucker.

I began to study Management books knowing that I would manage myself and people. I had also learned to program. In the same way, today, a medical doctor that learns to code can build a mobile app with free access to health tips and paid subscription to call or chat with real time doctors spread across the globe.

In this digital age, all discipline is interwoven. The Ethiopians would say: If you pick up one end of the stick you also pick up the other. So it’s hard to contribute one’s best without staying intellectually active as Drucker suggests.

A lot has changed now unlike before. It is remarked that Isaac Newton, the leading scientist of the 18th century enlightenment age, had no interest in Music, literature, arts and women (he never married). This may have worked in their time but the digital age needs people who have learned a great deal in their schools and more especially who have learned to learn anything.

ICT is for Information…

The millennial worker must stay informed always. Alex, my dear Israeli friend taught me the details of web hosting. Raj my Indian friend led me through a PHP course when no such expert is in Lagos. I love my tutors so much. They don’t even know that I exist but I make them speak to me via the internet whenever I want to. Thanks to ICT.

 

The World has come to an end

…and welcome to the new one, a digital world dipped in technology. Remember our clever tortoise? It foresaw its future and it did something about it!

How do you see yourself? Have you ever compared it to what others think about you? The ant once narrated to his friend the pig how big his yam grew, as big as his laps! The pig looking at the size of the ant’s laps laughed so hard that he rolled into dirt. But that was all it could do –laugh and roll into dirt. The world is so big and global that it almost takes note of only those that try to keep their head up. Remember what you call your dog is what it is.

How do you manage yourself? Have you got your watch? Do you check your T.I.M.E?

AUTHOR: O. OJIKE

References:

  1. Some notable Drucker’s awards includes: “Presidential Medal of Freedom” by President George W. Bush, 2002. “Grand Gold Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria”, 1991 and “Order of the Sacred Treasure”, Japan 1966.
  2. Internet World Stats: http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users-by-country/ Retrieved 2nd June, 2015.
  3. ‘Pepper’ is so clever. Google this Japanese robot.
  4. The Blog of Bill Gates: http://www.gatesnotes.com/Education/11-Million-College-Grads Retrieved 11th June, 2015.

Further reading:

  1. Peter F. Drucker, Managing Oneself (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing) 1999.
  2. Peter F, Drucker, Managing in the Next Society (New York: Truman Talley Books/St. Martin’s Press) 2002.
  3. Bruce Rosenstein, Create your future the Peter Drucker way (New York: McGraw-Hill Education) 2014.

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