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Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 1995

Abstract

In the postwar years, planning and control systems were the tools that enabled companies to grow and helped managers deal with sprawling enterprises. Yet many of the problems companies experience today are inherent in the strategy-structure-systems doctrine that produced those tools. The systems that allowed managers to control employees also inhibited creativity and initiative. Today the challenge for top-level managers is to engage the knowledge and skills of each person in the organization in order to create what the authors call an individualized corporation. In the individualized corporation, top-level managers don''t direct and correct middle and frontline managers; they create an environment in which individuals monitor themselves. The authors have conducted research on 20 high-performing corporations. They have concluded that systems, no matter how sophisticated, can never replace the richness of close personal communication and contact between top- level and frontline managers.

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Abstract

In the postwar years, planning and control systems were the tools that enabled companies to grow and helped managers deal with sprawling enterprises. Yet many of the problems companies experience today are inherent in the strategy-structure-systems doctrine that produced those tools. The systems that allowed managers to control employees also inhibited creativity and initiative. Today the challenge for top-level managers is to engage the knowledge and skills of each person in the organization in order to create what the authors call an individualized corporation. In the individualized corporation, top-level managers don''t direct and correct middle and frontline managers; they create an environment in which individuals monitor themselves. The authors have conducted research on 20 high-performing corporations. They have concluded that systems, no matter how sophisticated, can never replace the richness of close personal communication and contact between top- level and frontline managers.

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