Emerging countries in the near future era of free trade will demand a new style of collaborative management. In the past this has been dealt with a command and control style of leadership. This style will not give organisational flexibility or tap into the potential capabilities of the new employees. Take the example of New Zealand, who without trade barriers and as an agricultural exporting country will be one of the first countries exposed if they do not grow their organisations in collaboration with emergent countries.
In the future to sustain their standard of living how will New Zealand grow? Is the stage set for young New Zealanders to emigrate as they seek greater reward for their skills? Is there anything New Zealand Inc. can do to stem this likely scenario?
New Zealand will need to work collaboratively with these countries. Organisations will have to adapt to a very different set up, incorporating and assisting the local agricultural industries which are based on subsistence farming without investment in new technologies. These organisations will need to involve local communities and to develop new ways of management that will grow the company and enrich the communities. The challenges will be in communication to overcome the barriers of culture, language and minimal business skills and education. To be efficient productive organisations will be required to remove the bureaucracy, encourage fun and make work meaningful. The solution is to utilise the power of human networks to build strong teams of people aligned to the organisation goals.
Human communication networks are incredibly powerful. Take the recent Christchurch earthquake, in which order was lost, but people coped and rebuilt in the early hours and days, using individuals differing abilities, values, intelligence, knowledge to carry out meaningful and caring work that all contributed to getting this City back to being home. A recent documentary recorded this and what could be seen, was the resilience, the fun and the engagement. Studies of people after the Earthquake indicated improved connectiveness to their communites with less incidents of suicides or crime in the months that followed the earthquake.
This same power of human networking can be used positively for business, it happens anyway. The networks are used for advice, ideas and critical information that can be trusted due to the rich communication context with the individuals and teams. Information is delivered in a relevant manner, supportive (culture considered) and dependable due to the relationship history and understanding of the individuals.
The practical impact of using the power of human networks is the effect on participation. To be most effective management must set up structures that utilise and empower teams of people to complete projects and tasks. Allow the capacity within people, their intelligence and drive to be part of something meaningful. Manager perceptions of what is achievable are limited in these challenging environments. The teams of people will know what they are capable of and targeted and up skilled individuals will know how to engage others.
From the writers experience working in a participatory decentralised type of environment, one of the organisation’s most effective leaders is not literate, does not use e-mail, yet managers to form closely bonded night shift seasonal worker teams. On analysis of his communication networks, he has informal network communications with all departments within the organisation. He delivers, he is engaged and he loves the workplace. He is not alone, this workplace example is supportive of up skilling within the Company and many of the Senior Managers are without formal education and have expanded the company to be one of New Zealand’s most innovative and successful meat export companies. Currently the Company is working with new operators from the Pacific Nations, who are recognised as being an important part of the company’s future. This requires the company to work with communities, providing literacy and living skills as well as job specific education.
Organisations need to consider, analyse and support this process. Use network analysis, or a simple tool is to survey who talks informally to whom and determine the central ‘hub’ positions. Training and up skilling will change the differing networks, so this analysis process must be on-going. In the design of the architecture and of the processes, allow places for people to talk and encourage ease of access. This may seem to slow the organisation down initially, but trust that people want to be able to contribute; time is not wasted and efficient quality driven processes will be enabled.