Reinventing Management: A Unified, Top-Down and Bottom-Up, Approach / by Cristian Mitreanu

I recently entered the competition "The Beyond Bureaucracy Challenge: Creating Inspired, Open & Free Organizations" -- part two of the Harvard Business Review / McKinsey M-Prize for management innovation at the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX). Started by Gary Hamel, the MIX is "an open innovation project aimed at reinventing management for the 21st century." His talk "Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment," which is embedded below, details the context of this undertaking.

My entry "A Unified, Top-Down and Bottom-Up, Approach to Business Management" points to the "fundamental theory of business," which I developed over the past several years. According to the MIX requirements, the entry is structured as a "hack" ("a hack can be as seemingly basic as a better way to run meetings or as high-stakes as a complete overhaul of the compensation system — as long as it turns the tables on management-as-usual and offers up a pathway to progress on one of the moonshots"). Here are a few excerpts from it:


A new perspective on human nature, particularly on human needs, allows us to develop a dynamic model of the organization and an integrated top-down-bottom-up approach to management. Some of the major benefits of the resulting holistic inside-out-outside-in view include expanding the boundaries of the organization, bridging the gap between plan and execution, and increasing the owner's power in the management process.


- Make direction-setting bottom-up and outside-in

- Reinvent the means of control

- Rebuild management's philosophical foundations


"As a society, we were simply advancing toward understanding how to successfully perform increasingly larger sets of activities over increasingly longer periods of time. Unfortunately, what should have been a natural progression of our general understanding of business was diverted by historical circumstances on a dead-end road of knowledge. The quest for a fundamental theory of business was replaced by the quest for a theory of sustainable competitive advantage. Consequently, every effort to understand what it takes for a company to achieve enduring success was hampered by limitations inherent to the concept of strategy." This quote from my 2009 essay "A Wake-Up Call for the Business Nation" provides a high-level overview of the problem.



As indicated above, the solution presented in this hack is a theory of (understanding and doing) business that provides a more comprehensive and realistic explanation of how organizations fundamentally work. 



Some of the major benefits that the new theory brings to the business world include:


As mentioned in the hack's title, the new theory provides a unified, top-down and bottom-up, approach to business management. It also allows us to see businesses holistically, integrating the inside-out and the outside-in perspectives.



Some areas, where potential barriers to adoption might lie, include:


"Who's this guy?," many will ask. And rightfully so. History is chock-full with examples of individuals who have taken advantage of those who lacked information. Furthermore, over the past few decades, providing advice in the business management area has become a very lucrative field. 



First StepsA few steps that could be taken immediately (in ascending order of impact and required resources):


"If you understand cause and effect, it brings about a set of insights that leads you to a very different place. The knowledge will persuade you that the market isn’t organized by customer category or by product category.  If you understand the job that consumers need to complete, you can articulate all of the experiences in that job," said Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School in an interview with Inc. magazine.


Your comment, vote, or any kind of support for this entry would be highly appreciated.