Many people are struggling in their attempts to deal with the new world realities, particularly as they affect the domain of organization and management. Everywhere we look, traditional structures are being reshaped or falling down. Powerful nation-states have fragmented. Once-successful companies are finding that sure-hit formulas no longer work. People, and even whole communities, are finding the world moving beneath their feet as traditional markets, industries, and sources of employment disappear under the impact of new information technologies and a restructuring of the world economy.
As a result, many once-successful managers find themselves floundering as bureaucratic hierarchies and familiar career plans disappear. Those fortunate enough to retain their jobs face major challenges and readjustments. Rather than continuing in their old style, they have to find new ways of managing in flat, decentralized organizations where a capacity to flow with change is becoming a key requirement.
If one reads the popular management literature, there's no shortage of advice as to what people and their organizations need to do to be successful in this fast changing world. The messages are forceful ones:
`Thrive on chaos.`
`Develop a learning organization.`
`Become more creative.`
`Be market driven!`
`Foster entrepreneur ship/'
`Empower your staff/'
One may want to debate the buzzwords and the precise directions given, but there's a consistent theme here. In the new global environment, old styles of organization and management no longer work. We have to find alternatives.
But how is this to be achieved? How can one encourage the new organizational styles in practice? Ноги can people develop the modes of thinking and styles of management needed to make the new approaches a reality?
That's what this book is all about.
It's a book about the new management and new styles of organization. But, more fundamentally, it's a book about the kind of thinking that managers and people working in organizations need to develop if they are to be successful in dealing with a turbulent world.
I have called the book lmaginization to capture the fundamental challenge.
As a society, we have become preoccupied with the idea of finding ways of fixing and controlling the world around us. `Getting organized` has meant finding that structure or solution for a situation that's going to last. Hence the typical organization chart, with its concern to shape everything into neat and tidy parts. In more stable times, the process worked. But, in times of change, organizations that are organized in this way
run into trouble because they can't adjust to the new challenges being faced. That's why fresh ways of thinking about this problem are so necessary.
The challenge now is to imaginize: to infuse the process of organizing with a spirit of imagination that takes us beyond bureaucratic boxes. We need to find creative ways of organizing and managing that allow us to `go with the flow/' using new images and ideas as a means of creating shared understandings that will allow us to do new things in new ways.
Imaginization is a way of thinking. It's a way of organizing. It's a key managerial skill. It provides a way of helping people understand and develop their creative potential. It offers a means of finding innovative solutions to difficult problems. And, last but not least, it provides a means of empowering people to trust themselves and find new roles in a world characterized by flux and change.
The purpose of the following chapters is to show how we can develop capacities for imaginization in practice, and, in the process, develop a new core competence for managing the demands of a turbulent world. As you read, you will be invited to develop fresh ways of thinking about yourself and your organization. You will explore creative ways of managing change and gain insights on how to organize for flexibility and innovation. You will explore new approaches to teamwork and find creative ways of tackling a range of organizational problems. The aim in each case is to take you inside the process and show how you can develop your own creative abilities—to make this competence your own.
Imaginization is designed and written as a practical book on management with the practitioner in mind. Managers, organizational consultants, and executives in business, government, education, healthcare, labor unions and not for profit organizations will be able to make strong connections with the ideas, issues, and illustrations presented. They will find many practical ways of shifting their thinking and skills into closer alignment with the new challenges of a flexible `knowledge economy` where the ability to remain innovative, energized, and open to new development is a major priority.
At the same time, the book also serves the needs of academics and students of management who want to take organization and management theory out of the straitjacket created by conventional academic discourse. Readers familiar with my book Images of Organization will find that the following chapters extend the scope and implications of that work in a way that seeks to develop a new kind of organization theory: one that can evolve, develop, and change in a fluid, self-organizing way.
Whatever the perspective you bring to the following chapters, I invite you to look beyond the surface of what is being said and understand the process that runs throughout the book as a whole. For while each chapter gives specific ideas and insights on how we can manage in new ways, it is the process used to generate these insights that is all-important.
At the most fundamental level, imaginization is a powerful creative process that allows us to develop new mindsets for seeing, organizing, and managing in new times. It is a process that we all can master in a way that allows us to develop our own creative ways of navigating the twists and turns of the uncertain world in which we find ourselves. This is a world where continuous learning and flexible modes of intelligence are of paramount importance, and where our capacities for imaginization are needed as never before.
So commit yourself to this exploration in a personal way. Put yourself in the roles and situations unfolded in the various chapters. Develop your own perspectives and interpretations. Learn to tap your own wellsprings of creativity with confidence. By doing so you will mobilize a powerful new competence for thriving in turbulent times.