Learn how to manage people more effectively in four key areas.
Price, specialization, quality, and service – these are just some of the ways that you can gain an advantage in your industry.
But have you ever thought that you could be more successful by tailoring your organization's approach to management to fit your business strategy?
You can explore this with the "Birkinshaw's Four Dimensions of Management" model. We'll look at the four dimensions in this article, and we'll explore how you can use them to develop a more effective management model for your business.
Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategic and International Management at the London Business School, published his Four Dimensions of Management in his 2010 book, "Reinventing Management."
The framework (see figure 1, below) highlights four dimensions that represent key management processes and practices.
Each dimension has two opposing principles – these principles are "assumptions or beliefs about the way something works or should work." These principles underpin the routine actions that your organization's managers take.
The principles on the left side of each dimension are traditional principles: these are the approaches to management that organizations have used for many decades. The principles on the right are alternative principles: these are newer ways of thinking about management.
Figure 1 – Birkinshaw's Four Dimensions
You can use the framework to think about the approach to management that you're currently using, and to explore whether you can develop a more effective management model – one that suits your strategy and the way that you want to do business.
Let's look at each dimension, and the corresponding principles, in more detail.
This dimension relates to how managers coordinate activities with people over whom they have no direct control. The opposing principles are:
This dimension relates to how people make decisions in the organization. The principles are:
This dimension relates to how people set and pursue organizational goals. The principles are:
This dimension relates to how people are motivated in the organization. The principles are:
To use this tool, go through each dimension and think about where your team or organization is right now. Then, think about where your organization should be on each dimension, so that it can best achieve its strategy.
Your aim is to develop the most appropriate management model – as highlighted earlier, this is a set of choices about how the work of management gets done.
Remember that there is no "right" or "wrong" side of the scale. Your approach will depend on your organization, your current situation, and where you want to go strategically.
In reality, many organizations will be on the left-hand end of each scale, which may be fine if that is what their strategy requires. The challenge for managers comes if they want to move from more traditional management principles (on the left-hand side of the dimensions) to the alternative principles (on right-hand side of the dimensions).
Let's look at some of the tools and strategies that you can use to do this.
A certain level of bureaucracy is necessary to run an organization effectively, but, often, organizations get bogged down in it. You can develop emergence within your team and organization in several ways.
Start by reviewing your organization's business processes and procedures, so that you can eliminate unnecessary steps. As part of this, map processes out, and challenge the necessity of each step and rule that's applied. Also, get regular feedback from team members on how you can remove bureaucracy and improve processes and procedures.
Then, work on building a culture of trust, so that people know that they can be trusted to do their jobs properly without excessive bureaucracy. As part of this, empower your people, and share as much information with them as you can.
At least some level of hierarchy is essential for most organizations to function. However, you can use the principle of collective wisdom in many ways.
Again, build an environment of trust, so that you encourage your people to communicate with one another and speak freely without fear of being judged negatively. This will help you take advantage of your team members' expertise, and will encourage people to be more creative.
You can also encourage people to use social networking tools such as blogs, intranet forums, and Twitter to communicate with one another, and you can ask people to present their ideas at team meetings. This will further help people collaborate and share knowledge.
Our Book Insight into "The Power of Collective Wisdom and the Trap of Collective Folly" offers a look at how you can tap into the collective wisdom of members of your team.
Obliquity relies on people pursuing "indirect" goals that you and they intuitively believe will benefit the organization in the long term, rather than working on specific, more measurable, shorter-term goals.
To move towards obliquity, establish a clear mission for your team or organization, but then give people flexibility in how they'll work towards this mission, rather than setting out for them how to do their work day-to-day.
One approach – famously used by Google – is to give people a dedicated time-slot during the working week to "follow their hunches." You and other team members can review these projects regularly, and give backing to those that show potential.
You can also brainstorm indirect goals that, when achieved, have the potential to contribute to your team or organization's overall objectives.
Extrinsic motivators are often effective; however, you will likely find it best to motivate your people using a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators.
Each person on your team will be motivated by different things, so use tools like McClelland's Human Motivation Theory and Self-Determination Theory to understand what motivates them as individuals (both intrinsically and extrinsically).
Then, encourage people to use tools like the MPS Process, so that they can understand what type of work suits their personality and their strengths, and, where you can, allow them to craft their jobs to suit them better.
Also, remember that changing your management approach in each of the other three dimensions can help people experience more intrinsic motivation. For example, you could get these benefits by allowing team members more freedom in how they reach their goals, and by giving them a say in organizational decision-making.
London Business School professor, Julian Birkinshaw, developed his Four Dimensions of Management framework and published it in his 2010 book, "Reinventing Management."
Birkinshaw's Four Dimensions of Management are:
Each dimension consists of one traditional and one alternative principle.
You can use the framework to develop a management model that best suits the type of work that you're doing, and the way that you want your organization to develop.
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Birkinshaw, J. (2010) 'Reinventing Management,' Chichester: Jossey-Bass.