Real-Tme Management: Thinking Fast & Flow
January 26, 2019
My co-author and I first met in 2014 when Professor Omar El Sawy was giving a talk as part of the Renowned Scholars Seminar Series at the Department of Digitalization at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Here, we connected and discovered a common research interest in studies of the impacts of digitalization on management. In February 2015, at the University of Southern California, our second conversation ended up as a philosophical brainstorming session lasting several hours. The research idea was born.
Our motivation was sparked by a general curiosity on time as a resource and the many assumptions that relate to real time management strengthened by Professor El Sawy’s profound knowledge on Time Issues, gained from his PhD dissertation, teachings of MBA class on fast response management for almost a decade, plus a new course on real-time management. We then embarked on answering the open question of “what is real-time in the minds of managers?”
The profound societal changes triggered by technological disruption also influence our relation to time. We noticed how real time becomes increasingly important for the value proposition of enterprises and their ability to develop and innovate technology-driven products and services. At the same time, we see how people and societies are challenged by this acceleration of time demands. The “faster is better” seems to have severe consequences for people and societies in general and apparently sometimes for the worse, not the better. Many people cannot cope with the accelerating pace of technology and risk suffering from stress and burnout, which eventually slows down business productivity. Thus, there seems to be a need for critically considering how we approach time and the value assessment of real time.W
Since this took of as an explorative study we did not know in advance what direction the study would take.
Instead of defining hypotheses and using them as constraining light posts we decided to let the data speak to us, hoping that surprising findings would appear from the data. We tapped into the knowledge potential there is in the “go with the flow” of inductively conducting this type of research. Luckily we were rewarded with surprising empirical as well as theoretical findings. The results indicate that faster is not always better, and that flow is an alternative way to go.
This study embraces the product focus as well as the customer focus to address this paradox (expressed by the famous Henry Ford quote) “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” even though the faster horses eventually will kick them off. The quote is meant to highlight that real-time management is about understanding the underlying drivers of accelerating time and be able to navigate managerial practices accordingly. Those who are able to harness that may stand a better chance of creating lasting value with digital technologies for customers and business.
http://California Management Review A new era of disruptive technologies and changing business practices is moving a number of industries toward the “real-time” enterprise. With increased capabilities and intensity of online digital platforms, managers need to deliver goods and services faster, and to respond rapidly to customers within a disruptive and dynamic business environment. It is therefore critical to ask what “real time” means to managers, what real-time management entails, and learn how enterprises capture business value through real-time management, especially when the ability to adjust and operate in real time must be ingrained in organization’s culture, structures, and processes. We surveyed over 1,000 senior managers to better understand those issues and to get broader insights into enabling technologies and organizational mechanisms needed to transition more effectively into real-time management. Interviews provided deeper insights about managerial perceptions of real time, and about how, depending on the manager’s focus, real time generates value to the enterprise. We show that managers, who use “real time” in different ways, articulate different facets of experience and practices, leading to the Fast & Flow framework. Thinking of real time as “Fast & Flow” presents a sensemaking that is better attuned to the organization, the market, and a technology-driven state of flux. We provide insights for managers to build a “Fast & Flow” responsive enterprise and to transition to real-time management.