September 14, 2021


Management – the co-ordination of activities executed by many people – is expensive.  Managers don’t contribute directly to the bottom line, and good managers cost good money to hire.   So it’s no surprise that firms around the world have been looking for a way to get rid of managers.

One solution is to automate – management by algorithm, as used by Uber, deliveroo and the like, and increasingly applied to fields such as home-care.  This is hideously expensive to set up, of course, and it depends on creating an effective monopoly.   Plus it effectively turns humans into mindless robots, paid accordingly.

The other solution is to devolve responsibility out and down to the front-line – radical de-centralisation, where teams on the front line manage themselves.   An extreme (and very successful) example of this is Haier Industries, essentially what Corporate Rebels call ‘the biggest startup factory in the world’.

At Haier, ‘teams’ are startups, consisting of internal and external people (such as suppliers), all working to create value for customers, sharing the risks and the rewards along the way. They are monitored and supported, but not controlled.  Haier doesn’t decide what will work and what won’t, the market does.

In contrast to Uber and the like, Haier has created a highly profitable solution to getting rid of managers – by creating an ecosystem that enables self-managing people to do what only humans can do – create value for other humans – supported and rewarded by systems that help them to keep growing.

In the future, there will be no managers, only management.  What kind of management do you want for your business?  Uber? or Haier?

I know which I’d prefer.