MANAGING Purpose, Process & People: The new management philosophy

7 Oct, 2005 | by

The following is a summary and assessment of an article I read from the New Zealand School of Management by Des Dearlove called “MANAGING Purpose, Process & People: The new management philosophy”. 

This was a very interesting article that discussed a new management philosophy that claims will one day become dominant. It is called the purpose, process, people philosophy. It is expected to replace our current dominant philosophy, which has driven business for the past 50 years and is based on the idea that a company is purely an economic entity. The current trend indicates that there is almost a paradigm shift from financial capital to human capital, which in itself carries major repercussions under the current model. This new philosophy or trend will move beyond strategy, structure, and systems to purpose, process and peoples. It is a very different mentality that really brings value to an individuals net worth, which in turn puts the onus on employers to realize this value.

As the article moves forward it discusses what has changed to cause this shift of philosophy. I found this to be the most interesting portion of the article as it explicitly states that financial capital is no longer the scarce resource. The true scarce resource is the employee and the knowledge that employee brings to the table. I myself have felt his way for a long time, but honestly feel that the majority of companies out there just don’t feel this way. In my opinion it seems that companies considering all employees expendable and would be more likely to fire then cultivate them. It may be a pessimistic way of looking at things, but this is what I’ve experienced.

So what will replace it? This is the next major question asked in the article as it then delves into the concept of purpose, process and people philosophy. From there the article unfolds a series of other questions such as “what does it mean for shareholders?”, What challenges does that present for companies?” and “can globalization be a force for good?”.

The article definitely raises some interesting questions but doesn’t fully elaborate on the answers, which I suppose is its sole purpose. One example of this was under the “how will the day to day task of management change as a result?” Under this section, there is a passage that I can truly sympathize with. It goes like this: “We’ve always known relationships are important in business but have not counted this explicitly. From research, we now see it is one of the best indicators of superior performance.”  I think this statement is absolutely true, but it raises questions of my own, such as: How did you measure those indicators? And how can you explicitly measure a quality that is such a dynamic trait?

Overall, I think the article was fantastic, a real breath of fresh air in terms of how to view a modern business. People in my opinion will always be the most valuable asset to any organization. I also welcome the idea of implementing a new system that will help realize this new philosophy. But, I still stick to my earlier statements. The majority of companies out there consider employees expendable, which clearly does not comply with this change of philosophy. Maybe one day that will change and the employee will receive the primary focus that they truly deserve, but right now, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

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