New Organizational Environments:
The dynamic engagement approach recognizes that an organization’s environment is not some set of fixed, impersonal forces. Rather, it is a complex, dynamic web of people interacting with each other. As a result managers must not only pay attention to their own concerns, but also understand what is important to other managers both within their organizations and at other organizations. They interact with these other managers to create jointly the conditions under which their organizations will prosper or struggle. The theory of competitive strategy, developed by Michael Porter, focuses on how managers can influence conditions in an industry when they interact as rivals, buyers, suppliers, and so on. Another variation on the dynamic engagement approach in management for a Small Planet places ecological concerns at the center of management theory.
Ethics and Social Responsibility:
Managers using a dynamic engagement approach pay close attention to the values that guide people in their organizations, the corporate culture that embodies those values, and the values held by people outside the organization. This idea came intro prominence with the publication in 1982 of in Search of Excellence by Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman. From their study of excellent companies, Peters and Waterman concluded that the top performers create a broad, uplifting, shared culture, a coherent framework within which charged up people search for appropriate adaptations.
Robert Solomon has taken this idea a step further, arguing that managers must exercise moral courage by placing the value of excellence at the top of their agendas. In dynamic engagement, it is not enough for managers to do things the way they always have, or to be content with matching their competitors. Continually striving toward excellence has become a organizational theme of the 1990s. Because values including excellence are ethical concepts, the dynamic engagement approach moves ethics from the fringe of management theory to the heart of it.
Globalization and Management:
The dynamic engagement approach recognizes that the world is at the manager’s doorstep in the 1990s. With world financial markets running 24 hours a day, and even the remotest corners of the planet only a telephone call away, managers facing the twenty-first century must think of themselves as global citizens. Kenichi Ohmae makes this point as he describes a borderless world where managers treat all customers as equidistant from their organizations.
A simple comparison illustrates how things have changed. If you were to look through Alfred Sloan’s autobiography about his long career as General Motors chairman through the 1940s, you would find very little about international factors with good reason in that time and place. Today, however, if you tune into a CNN broadcast you will notice that the reporters do not use the word foreign at all. Or, consider the poster on the wall of Honda dealerships, which says the idea of an American car doesn’t make any sense in an era when a single car contains parts made by people from all over the globe.
Inventing and Reinventing Organizations:
Managers who practice dynamic engagement continually search for ways to unleash the creative potential of their employees and themselves. A growing chorus of theorists is urging managers to rethink about the standard organization structures to which they have become accustomed. Peters is once again at the forefront. His concept of liberation management challenges the kinds of rigid organization structures that inhibit people’s creativity. Peter’s heroes succeed in spite of those structures. Michael Hammer and James Champy have made their concept of reengineering the corporation into a bestseller. Hammer and Champy urge managers to rethink the very processes by which organizations function and to be courageous about replacing processes that get in the way of organizational efficiency.