Apr 1, 2009

Managing Context



Gareth Morgan wrote on the importance of context. Offered here, without any additional comments. More here .
In recent years, managers have become well aware of the need to understand and keep in touch with changes in the external environment shaping their organizations. The importance of this aspect of context seems well understood. But they have been far slower in recognizing the significance of internal context and how it shapes almost everything they do. True, there is more attention being devoted to corporate culture, but culture is just one element of context.
When managers create organization structures or develop job descriptions and reward systems, they are creating context.
When they urge the adoption of new business ideas or try to develop a new sense of vision or mission, they are creating context.
And when they are ponderous and indecisive, dodging difficult issues, or communicating unintended messages to their staff, they are creating context.
Context-making is the fundamental art of management. It is performed for better or worse throughout the working day. Yet for the most part, it is sorely neglected and misunderstood.
Formal theories of leadership and management style are partly to blame. They usually focus attention on the personal qualities of the leader or manager, or on managerial behaviour. For example, leaders are urged to "take firm control," "be collaborative," "manage by walking around" or whatever is in vogue. The focus is on the figure of the leader, rather than on the ground that he or she influences and thus helps to create.