William Whyte’s Organization Man is dead. In the largest and most pervasive corporate revolution since Alfred Sloan and Pierre du Pont laid the foundations of modern management in the 1920s, companies are abandoning the deeply embedded policies and practices that are failing them. Yet, in the aftermath of a series of restructuring, reengineering, and revitalization initiatives, overwhelmed and confused managers everywhere are wondering, What next?
Based on six years of research and hundreds of interviews with managers at every level in such companies as Intel, ABB, Canon, 3M, and McKinsey, The Individualized Corporation explores the collapse of an outmoded corporate form and reveals the emergence of a fundamentally different management philosophy that focuses on the power of the individual as the driver of value creation in the company and the importance of individuality in management. Sumantra Ghoshal and Christopher Bartlett, world-renowned scholars and consultants, conclude that in today’s service-based, information-intense, competitive environment, corporate leaders must recognize that human creativity and individual initiative are their most important source of competitive advantage.
The image of the “organization man” as a cog in a corporate machine has become not only dated but also dangerous. Rather than trying to force employees into a homogenous corporate mold based on a company’s strategy, structure, and system, Ghoshal and Bartlett argue that managers must embrace a philosophy based on purpose, process, and people – one that focuses on developing and leveraging the individual’s unique talents and skills.
Without proposing a universal solution or a quick-fix prescription, The Individualized Corporation describes in practical detail not only the “what” but also the “how” of building and managing an Individualized Corporation. It develops a new model of the organization as a portfolio of processes rather than a hierarchy of tasks. It describes the new rules that frontline, middle, and top-level managers must play and examines the personal attitudes, knowledge, and skills they will need in order to succeed. And it defines the outlines of a new moral contract that this new generation of companies must develop with its employees and society at large. Rich with examples of pioneers who have successfully evolved from traditional bureaucracies to Individualized Corporations, this important book provides an indispensable guide for those who must lead their companies into the next century.
Sumantra Ghoshal holds the Robert P. Baughman Chair of Strategic Leadership at London Business School.
Christopher A. Bartlett is the Class of 1966 Chair of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
As recognized experts in organization and management, their global clients include AT&T, IBM, Ford, Motorola, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Daimler-Benz, and the LG group.