In the old days being boss was like being king of your own little kingdom. It was your job to make decisions and the people who worked for you were there to do what you said. That was then.
In the old days decisions moved up through the hierarchy and change was slow in coming. Customers lived with the slowness of decisions because they had no choice. That, too, was then.
The Age of Mass Production created more wealth than any other economic system in the history of mankind.
Today customers want what they want and the want it now. And thanks to the Internet we live in a world where they can get what they want now. That has given rise to a new economic era, the Age of Mass Customization. This is now.
The shift from then to now changes all the rules — first in the marketplace, but ultimately in the workplace. Today economic success increasingly depends on market agility, and that market agility means employees at all levels need to make real-time decisions, decisions that determine the customer experience, drive revenue, and determine operating costs.
In the then world, decisions were centralized; in the now world decisions are decentralized. That shift completely redefines the role of management — driving a shift from making decisions to enabling others to make decisions.
For employees to make the “right” decisions, decisions that optimize the balance between the interests of customers and company, they need a rich understanding of the company’s vision, values and goals. It also requires access in the now to facts so they can understand the implications of decisions in business terms.
In our then world, life was simpler as it was clear the boss made the decisions. Today, in a Mass Customization world, the need for real-time decision making adds complexity but it also demands that employees be engaged.