Organizations have gone through two major evolutionary transitions over the last 100 years.  The first was the foundation of the modern organization around the turn of the 20th century.

This was the time of Henry Ford and the mass production.  It saw the emergence of Frederick Taylor and the scientific method of management.  It viewed the organization much as Newtonian physics viewed the world at large, as a huge clock, a machine that can be analyzed, reduced to a simple set of interconnected formulas.  The cornerstone of this worldview is that an organization is a simple, perhaps complex, linear system that can be structured, and controlled to produce a predictable result.

The foundation of management theory was epitomized by the standard Plan, Organize, Lead and Control. We strived to make the organization as efficient as possible through the careful analysis of process and workflow, streamlining, and optimizing wherever possible.  We found new uses of tools to help improve and speed up the flow of work through the system and used metrics to tell us if we are efforts were improving the processes.

If we compared it to building a high performance race car, this would be analogous to the careful design of the engine to create maximum output, tuning the transmission to the particular engine to ensure the smoothest transitions and the driveshaft to maximize the transfer of energy to the wheels.

This worldview still plays a key role in our efforts to run the most efficient organization possible and in my opinion it always will.  100 years after its creation the scientific management principles of organization is still a necessary component every leader must be well skilled in. But will it is necessary it is not sufficient.  Tomorrow I will share the second major stage in organizational life.

Throughout his professional career as a Chief Executive Officer, Corporate Director, and Advisor to CEOs, Norman Wolfe has successfully guided corporations through major transitions leading to substantial growth, market expansion and enhanced financial performance.