What will it take to transform management? Look to the Polio Eradication Model.

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In a few days, I'll be leaving behind the balmy weather in Chennai and heading to #Stoos in Switzerland. Our Stoos Gathering attendees will be deliberating on the issue of accelerating the transformation of management. We'll likely be asking questions like, "How can we accelerate the transformation of management away from creaky, dysfunctional models of the past and towards modern, dynamic in the present?"

Or "How can we catalyze widespread change in management to better meet the challenges of our turbulent times?"

Some days ago, I blogged about some of the models under consideration, and indicated that all of the approaches are essentially humanistic and systemic. So, whether we consider slightly older models like Jim Highsmith's Agile Project Management model or the Declaration of Inter-dependence; or more recent ones like Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0 and Steve Denning's Radical Management, I believe the required transformation from current management state to future state is less about the mechanics, and more about the fundamentals.

How can we transform from older industrial-style management with its mechanistic command-and-control to newer "light-touch" humanistic management with decentralized or distributed control? In the agile world, we have certainly seen many companies initiate and sustain agile management and agile development transformations. The Forrester Group reports more and more organizations have initiated agile transformations world-wide. In my last blog post, I referred to this as creating a playground of productivity. In response, @stevedenning points out that the bigger question is, "How can we sustain the transformation?" I've spent the last few days in preparation for #Stoos: reviewing available models, reviewing the comments surrounding the Stoos gathering and perhaps most important, doing some personal reflection and retrospection on that very question.

While mulling the question, and perhaps enabled by my current surroundings, I recalled a very successful worldwide movement: the Polio Global Eradication Initiative. I first learned about this initiative when, on a flight to India some months ago, I sat next to a gentleman from Boston who was leading a U.S based team of volunteers from Rotary International. The goal of the initiative is to completely eradicate this often fatal and always debilitating disease from the earth.

Rotary International is one of the four spearheading partners in the initiative, and it is heart-warming to see volunteers from all over the world fund their own way, and team with local organizations and volunteers to help vaccinate children in the remaining hotspots.

The key partners: the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have mobilized thousands of volunteers, and managed and coordinated and managed their efforts in alignment with clear strategy with four pillars:
  1. Routine immunization
  2. Supplementary immunization
  3. Surveillance
  4. Targeted "mop-up" campaigns
The results are impressive. Per UNICEF, over the past 20 years, there has been a 99% reduction in polio cases.

I think we have a lot to learn from this model that brings public and private organizations; and governments and individuals together to work towards a common goal.

My thoughts on using the polio eradication initiative as a model for a global movement to transform management coming up in the next blog post.

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