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Why Command and Control Management is Fading

        posted by , February 19, 2013

Business is demilitarizing.

Command and Control is a management approach based on the military technique of the same name.

Command and Control Management was common in the first half of the 20th century. In the 1960s, it experienced a dramatic downfall and has been on the decline ever since.

Definition: Command and Control Management

Command and Control is a management style based on a strict hierarchy of authority. Managers have specific authority to issue commands. Commands must be followed or discipline is applied.

Why Command and Control Management Has Gone Into Decline

Generational changes are considered a factor in the decline of Command and Control Management.

New generations of workers (beginning in the 1960s) weren't easily motivated by commands.

Another factor in the decline was the shift of focus from production to innovation (a phenomenon referred to as The Knowledge Economy).

The knowledge economy has dramatically decreased the skill gap between management and the people they manage. Sixty years ago, a manager might supervise a team of administrators and typists. The manager's authority was largely based on the skill gap between the manager and the employees he/she managed.

Things have changed. For example, a modern IT manager might manage architects, project managers and programmers. In this context, management is considered just another skill.

In a knowledge-driven organization command and control techniques are considered counterproductive (e.g. a barrier to creativity).

When To Use a Command and Control Approach

Command and Control works for the military. It's still an important management technique.

It's most effective in scenarios in which a high degree of discipline is required to achieve objectives.

It's also useful for scenarios in which decisions have to be made quickly. When there's no time for debate, decision making authority must be clear.

If you're launching a mission to Mars you might consider a command and control management structure.

This post is an installment in the ongoing series of articles called Management: The Missing Manual.

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