Augmented management: so what for skills development?

le 6 février 2012 par


An important question, when one realizes how important it will be for a corporation to have augmented managers, is to understand how to develop them. It is not a trivial one since it will mean much more than “just” adding to the existing development tools, frameworks and programs.

Adding to current personal development programs will not be enough to create the right “human augmentation”.

The augmented manager has to be at a high human level, this means current programs around personal development will have to be enhanced and disseminated largely. One can think in particular of attention/concentration improvements, leadership skills, listening skills, conflict resolution skills, management under ambiguity capabilities, dispersed team management skills, virtual team management skills, one’s health management, stress management, time management, coaching/tutoring/mentoring capabilities, etc. the list is long and most training departments or corporate universities have programs for those skills within their “catalogues”. The issue is to understand that a little bit more of the same will not be enough. For instance the efforts on “time management” or on “concentration” require completely new approaches at a time when most managers have become slaves to their Blackberry or their massive incoming information flows.

A “social” and digital augmentation is required

The social dimension found in social networks, social learning etc., most of them largely based on the digital impact on our social lives, changes our ways of working, interacting with colleagues or employees.

From a development perspective this will imply to develop skills around: the management of internal and external networks/communities (e.g. why, how, when to use them and with which tools); the adjustment to issues related to the growing importance of the horizontal hierarchy ; the adjustment to new internal power games; the understanding of the high complexity of an organization relying now both on internal and external resources (including crowdsourcing) ; the mastering of hi-touch relations (e.g. face to face) and low-touch relations (e.g. mostly virtual and asynchronous) and their interactions ; the ability to use and contribute to co-learning, co-coaching, etc.; the ease to use information, to curate it, to manage flows and stocks of information properly, to understand how to use and contribute to the new commons created by social based information.

Each of these skills requires a new approach to the organization dynamics/ ecosystem and therefore new development methods and tools.

A societal augmentation is required

The “societal” dimension, i.e. the fact that a corporation is increasingly facing social responsibilities around environment, ethical, labor market, even political issues, will require manager to have a higher view of their personal and professional responsibility both at the local level of their activity and at the higher level of their corporation’s role on society.

Basic training programs on CSR will not be enough for the augmented manager to feel at ease with the society, his own role and his own ethic. For instance the augmented manager will need to be able to put anything he does in the right “context”, in other words to be able to “de-contextualize” himself (is my opinion here and now valid for other parts of the organization and is it sustainable?) and to “re-contextualize” himself (how to reconcile my corporate global position with my local responsibilities?).

A foresight/insight augmentation is required

The augmented manager, like the augmented reality, has to provide a vision through the “normal” management. But for being able to get this skill, he needs, on top of all those expressed above, to get a sense of foresight/insight into the evolutions of society, technologies, economy. He needs to be aware of the changes at stake because of the world trends and, more important, of their implications on his corporate strategy, his business and his management practices.

Furthermore since most of our new “normal” is composed of a succession of more or less important crisis, he needs to have enough vision in order to be at ease in a “continuous crisis” environment. One may call this agility but agility is more the reaction side and is only valid if one has a clear vision of his holistic environment.

Each of the skills mentioned above can be translated into very specific micro skills, into differentiating behaviors (what would an augmented manager do differently?) and even into gap analysis (what are the main requirements for augmenting someone?).

The issue for development centers and corporate universities is that all these skills need to be developed more or less at the same time and within a competitive environment. It will also require using an exploration mode since all the realities of this new world change fast. For instance of a need at a granular level of development, the understanding of the role and usage of Twitter changes roughly every six months, making it difficult to set in stone a simple program on “how to use Twitter”, the new development programs have to be adaptive, iterative and agile.

 

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