Lost in the Translation: the Challenge of Managing New Zealand's Professional Service Organisations

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Scott, Penelope
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Master in Design Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Sharma, Pradeep
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
professional services
design management
strategic management
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Scott, P. (2006). Lost in the Translation: the Challenge of Managing New Zealand's Professional Service Organisations. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master in Design Management, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
The world of work is changing in ways that could not have been anticipated 20 years ago, when the theory and practice of management was being developed around concepts of best practice and implementation of a winning strategy. Few of the assumptions that lay behind our understanding of organisations at that time would stand-up in today’s business landscape. There are no longer any road maps. It is the responsibility of every organisation to design their own unique future around the vision that they have for that future, and the brainpower and energy of their people. Using in depth, one-on-one interviews, the research examines to what extent this is understood by people in positions of leadership and team management in three of New Zealand’s largest professional service firms. There are three broad conclusions: The nature of markets and competition cannot be relied upon to be constant and as such, firms must learn how to be adaptable and responsive; Clients have been humanised to the extent that they are now an integral part of the service management system and firms need to design their organisations to support this and; Societal changes are having a profound impact on the world of work and the structure of organisations. These challenges are consistent with the emerging themes and ideas found in the management literature of the 1990’s, and continue on into the 21st century. The conclusion drawn is that leaders and managers in professional services firms can only realise more from their people if they can maintain a balance between an individual’s commitment to the firm, to their profession and to themselves. Achieving this will depend upon the ability of the leader or manager to build the kind of social architecture that will allow people a degree of elasticity in their working lives. They will also need to be consummate translators of strategic vision. Design management has a role here because it recognises the value of a new, inter-connected workplace, where people have the freedom to be themselves based on an appreciation and understanding of others.
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