Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Do we need Managers?


   I’ve been at the Economist today, reviewing this Summer’s Talent Management Summit, and starting to develop the focus for next year’s event (scheduled for 12th June 2012).

We discussed a lot of different things, which due to Chatham House rules I can’t discuss, but I’m hopefully OK to comment on my own contributions…

At one point we were discussing the development of leaders, and the differences to that of managers etc.  I noted the interesting dynamic that will be raised as the role of line manager gradually disappears.

Again, I can’t comment on what some of the HR leaders there said, but I will note this didn’t get a particularly positive response.  And I don’t want to single out the people in the room, but I do wonder whether HR Directors in general are thinking radically enough?

Actually, I think there’s evidence for this need in the Economist magazine this week.  In their great report on the future of jobs, they note the rise of the open sourced economy:

“To understand why these changes are so exciting for some people and so scary for others, a good place to start is the oConomy section on the website of oDesk, one of several booming online marketplaces for freelance workers. In July some 250,000 firms paid some 1.3m registered contractors who ply their trade there for over 1.8m hours of work, nearly twice as many as a year earlier.

ODesk, founded in Silicon Valley in 2003, is a “game-changer”, says Gary Swart, its chief executive. His marketplace takes outsourcing, widely adopted by big business over the past decade, to the level of the individual worker. According to Mr Swart, this “labour as a service” suits both employers, who can have workers on tap whenever they need them, and employees, who can earn money without the hassle of working for a big company, or even of leaving home.

It is still small, but oDesk shows how globalisation and innovation in information technology, the two big trends that have been under way for some time, are moving the world.”


If we don’t need jobs, we certainly don’t need managers! (and I still believe that even more traditional organisations will increasingly do away with managers as well).

So how do we develop leaders if people increasingly aren’t getting experience working as managers first?



  • Consulting - Research - Speaking  - Training -  Writing
  • Strategy  -  Talent  -  Engagement  -  Change and OD
  • Contact  me to  create more  value for  your business
  • jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


1 comment:

  1. I agree we need to think more radically. I disagree that we can do away with managers at the line level. But I certainly may be wrong. If we do my guess is it will be with "team leads" that take on many of those roles. I do agree work teams can certainly take on much more responsibility for managing the work they are responsible for and planing for the future, improvements etc.

    Keep pushing. I agree thinking less tied to our historical norms is needed.


Please add your comment here (email me your comments if you have trouble and I will put them up for you)