Incumbency in an age of disruption — managing in rough weather
A great deal is said about disruption, much of it presumptive of Schumpeter’s “gale” — the clichéd “creative destruction” — as a force for good. We don’t tend to think much about those incumbents who have the job of managing in disruptive times. So it’s a breath of fresh air to see a book that has a go.
Charles Carnegie and Denis McDonald have been around the block, these days as consultants on management. “Network Centred Leadership” is a distillation of their ideas.
Essentially, the thesis is that while establishing context and communication are vital, the rigour of management in stormy times is balance. Make sure you have the skills in your network of talent. Make sure you have the levers at hand and clearly defined. Make sure you know the right balance and apply changes of course as required.
At the core, they say that the work itself has to be clear. So in a volatile environment, leaders need to adopt firmly the idea of taking a dynamic approach to the work. As things change, so does the work itself — the job description or targets and whatever that drive people’s motivation and behaviour.
I’d imagine that the biggest single problem is — as Martin Wolf suggested recently in the FT — in managing the stakeholders in a company of stockholders. Carnegie and McDonald cover that too. It’s worth a close read.