Remember “management by objective?”

In the early years of my own management career, management by objective was the single-minded battle cry for business. It was a time when we took certain things for granted, like the hard work ethic of our staff; with few exceptions, dependability and reliability was pretty much a workplace-entry given.

Little wonder that most of our efforts were directed toward process improvement, with the Total Quality Management movement sprouting in very fertile ground. “P” always stood for process, not people.

Today it’s a whole different ballgame.

Say “TQM” and most young managers will look at you and say, “What?” Mention Jack Welch, or Six Sigma and you might get a little closer to their glimmers of recognition. The interest doesn’t last all that long though, because it’s too much process obsession to swallow: We’re in a generation that expects a shorter learning curve— and a much shorter process run.

We still love easy-to-remember acronyms though, and they remain golden for learning focus. We coaches love ‘em, for they can become mantras that drive consistency in organizations. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the world uses them —that just makes them business-speak. What matters is that everyone in the organization does. It mobilizes them and unifies them.

In my neck of the business woods, the one I’ve used with a few customers recently to help them focus is something we’ve been calling POP² management.

P— People concerns come first; staff, customers, all stakeholders. And people are values-driven today, perhaps more than they have ever been.

O— Objective is still important: What we call it now, is usually vision, mission, and strategy. Ultimately, all of those things are people-driven.

P²— Process is still important too, for we can’t ignore task, the transactional stuff of our businesses. However it is Purpose-driven Process. We have no patience for any other kind.

What POP² helps me coach leaders in, is management strategy with this simple focus, but crucial recognition: People expect more today, which means they expect more of you as a manager.

When you go back and break down each component of POP² you can easily see how the attention span and wanting of people filter all through it. Values and our innate need to make some meaning of our lives filter all through it.

Management by objective? Not enough today, not by a long shot.

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Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives; you’ll find her index in the left column of www.ManagingWithAloha.com

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Innovate with Form and Function

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