The purpose of the Management Information Lab is to accelerate the evolution of management by bringing together practitioners from industry and academics to research and develop better ways to manage in the 21st century. Tom Brown looks at the work of the MLab through the eyes of its executive director, Alan Matcham.
Started in 2006 by Gary Hamel and Julian Birkinshaw, the Management Innovation Lab, based at London Business School, is a partnership between the school and the Woodside Institute. Its first executive director, Alan Matcham, recently joined the Lab after serving as the European Head of the Thought Leadership Programmes at the Oracle Corporation.
“As a starting point,” Matcham says, “the Management Innovation Lab takes the core tasks of management – controlling, planning, developing people, sharing knowledge, coordinating, communicating, motivating and goal setting – and examines the deep-seated beliefs or ‘truisms’ underpinning each task. Reframing those truisms to address today’s challenges is our essential aim.”
What the Lab (www.managementlab.org) is trying to do on a regular basis is completely rethink the models used for managing organizations in order to inject adaptability and a new vibrancy into enterprise. “If you think about it,” says Matcham, “innovation happens all the time when it comes to products, business processes and technology.
“But there’s very little innovating going on in the profession of management. What we are seeing at the MLab is that, in the majority of cases, management is the real bottleneck to progress. Most people today, working in the 21st century, find themselves positioned in organizational structures invented in the 20th century – and those structures are governed by management practices invented in the 19th century.” The consequences of such a mishmash for employee engagement, productivity, organizational responsiveness and, ultimately, profitability are profound in terms of sub-optimizing the resources and capability available.