Managing in the New Economy

These changes are well documented and supported by wealth of evidence. In New Zealand, the notion of knowledge economy is becoming established, supported now by government initiatives to encourage some of the necessary infrastructural developments.
In parallel with and driven by the economic changes, we are beginning to experience notable impact on the way that organisations are structured and managed. We are beginning to see in New Zealand the reality of what global focus actually means: organisations moving into worldwide alliances with historical competitors, international mergers, and delayering of organisations are but few examples.
In turn the role and careers of managers are becoming significantly different. For instance, as organisations embrace alliance and extended network models of business, the skills required to succeed are different. Knowledge is the key component and resource necessary for job success. For knowledge dependent roles, access to knowledge is critical; it must be instant, it must be credible and it must be reliable.
On personal level, managers are already much more mobile and independent, with more frequent job and career changes. This brings with it the need for very different approaches to career planning, to assessing what skills are required for the next career move and to providing ongoing learning – services traditionally supplied by the manager’s employer.

Information age to blame
One of the most profound changes brought by the information age is the shift from local to global thinking. Information does not recognise geographical boundaries. Survival of organisations and increasingly individual managers hinges on the ability to be part of the world, to be continually abreast of developments and maintain ongoing dialogue with others in their field. Only by doing this can they cope with the technology driven, discontinuous changes that spell disaster for the unprepared.
Managers often enter the profession ill-prepared and once there, have at best an ad-hoc methodology for updating and moving themselves forward. Managers, and this includes everyone who manages not only people but all resources, will have to take much wider perspective on their role and career. If this is to happen behaviour change will be necessary, both on the part of managers and on those who offer themselves as providers of management support.

Two factors are important
As well as the obvious requirement for high quality knowledge and learning, two other factors are becoming critical in supporting New Zealand managers.
? Breadth – Managers will increasingly not be able to operate in isolation, be it geographical, organisational or functional. Given the speed of change, collaboration and networks well beyond traditional boundaries will be essential to avoid being left behind or bypassed. Managers have duty to their organisations to develop breadth. Providers of management service must structure themselves to encourage it.
? Integration – Systems thinking tells us that all elements of business are interrelated and must be managed as whole. Similarly the profession of management has many facets that must be integrated in order to create maximum value. For example, aligning the longer-term development needs of manager’s career with the needs of both the employer and manager for day-to-day business-related information, knowledge and learning.
Providers of management support services therefore must operate not only in traditional areas such as management development but also offer portfolio of services that enable managers to perform their emerging roles more effectively. Importantly, because time priorities will not become any less demanding, this support will need to be provided in an integrated fashion and be easily assessable.

Emerging management development organisations
It seems that four types of enterprises in the field of ?management development’ are emerging.
? Firstly, highly specialised organisations that have single, closely related products or services. To survive, these organisations must develop wide markets; increasingly these are on global scale.
? Secondly, large organisations that can provide wide portfolio of products and services. Breadth is usually achieved through mergers and alliances with complementary organisations. Scale is the essence here.
? Thirdly, individual consultants working either independently or as partners in consulting organisation, offering either highly specialised or personal support service.
? Fourthly, organisations that offer breadth through brokerage type service: ones that, because of their strong geographic/industry position or brand are able to attract high quality providers under common umbrella.

Management institutions
have special place

As important management development organisations, membership institutions such as the New Zealand Institute of Management, are recognised traditionally as occupying unique position. As well as providing training they have added value to the profession of management by building management communities.
However membership organisations worldwide are in decline, the result of changing lifestyles, shorter-term decision horizons and other factors. Management institutes are no different, often suffering from being too narrow for the needs of their members in today’s world. Many offer range of products that has not really changed in the last 10 years. They are essentially training organisations – bit-players in the industry providing fragmented service to customers and stakeholders.
Traditional not-for-profit management institutes have special place in the economy since their goal is more about improving the quality of the country’s management than generating profit for owners/shareholders. Some are surviving but if they are to continue to be relevant they must reassert their unique position as centres of excellence for independent and unbiased management support. Not to do so will see them continue to lose their base of influence and be increasingly marginalised.

What does this mean for New Zealand’s professional management institute?
With its history as the professional association for managers, New Zealand Institute of Management, in common with its sister institutes throughout the world, should be the natural home of management development and support in the country. However, because the core market is changing significantly NZIM must be clear on which of the emerging roles it wants to play – and then help to lead the change.
It is also clear that, to be recognised by all stakeholders as the undisputed first choice and trusted resource of management in New Zealand, NZIM must project the image of strong, cohesive and competent organisation. This is especially so if its influencing voice with Government and other key partners is to grow.
The Institute has engaged in substantial debate over the past year or so to determine which of the emerging models of management development organisation is appropriate. The size of the market, its demographics and to some extent the uniqueness of the New Zealand environment have all contributed to the conclusion that it should be one that facilitates wide yet integrated range of management services and support. And so the process of change has begun. NZIM has already identified some of what will be necessary to meet future trends. It has new business model and specific strategies for areas such as e-delivery of services, brand, image and education.
But this is only the beginning and in many ways the easy bit. The challenge for all of us who are involved in developing leaders of the future is to break mindsets. It is comfortable to continue with what has been successful in the past but we must get the message across – the old rules of how organisations and managers

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