Thursday, May 11, 2006

Management as a Service

Agile Management blogger David Anderson has an interesting post called How to Communicate with Me. Talking of a manager he used to work for, he says, "He understood that service goes downward in management and he encouraged us to communicate to him, how he could be of service to us."

Anderson publishes his template for communicating upwards in hierarchical organizations. It is basically a service request, with polite instructions to the executive on how to be of service to the organization below.

The value of a formal template, Anderson explains, is that it makes the service request seem official. You are not soliciting your boss (or your boss's boss) to do something as a personal favour; you are legimately invoking his help in an official capacity.

As Anderson warns, there are many managers who don't take kindly to being told what to do. From my own experience, I can also mention the managers who cheerfully receive such requests, make promising noises, but seem unable or unwilling to deliver. So this is certainly not a universally accepted management style, and it is difficult to practise in a command-and-control organization.

Management-as-a-service (MaaS) therefore looks like an enabler and a key characteristic of the edge organization.

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