Tammy Erickson wrote an interesting piece last week The End of Line Managers as We Know Them – Peter Drucker’s Prediction that made we wonder how applying enterprise decision management, EDM, would change the role of line managers. Several changes would seem to be likely:
- Less rubber-stamping
With the automation of approvals, eligibility, refunds, pricing decisions and more the staff of a line manager should be able to handle more without referral to the manager. As many managers today spend significant time simply rubber-stamping those decisions that their staff are not allowed to make, this should free up a chunk of time for work that really needs their experience or intellligence.
- More exceptional exceptions
As more and more of the day-to-day decision making is automated, the exceptions that get to a manager should be more exceptional. These kinds of exceptions probably require real management – case management really – and so will be more rewarding, more challenging and more valuable to the company.
- More and better analysis
Automation of decisions should deliver both more time for analysis and more interesting data for that analysis. Logging and tracking decisions creates a data set that is very specific and valuable when it comes to analysis of results. Combined with the elimination of time consuming but not terribly valuable activities this should mean more and better analysis of what is actually working or not working.
- Fewer compliance worries
Instead of having to ensure that the decisions their staff take are compliant with regulations and policies (by listening in, random sampling or whatever), line managers will be working directly with their decision making systems to ensure that the rules in those systems are correct and thus all decisions are compliant.
- Less training, more staff development
Instead of spending time teaching staff policies and procedures, managers will be able to focus on actual staff skills like empathy or opportunity awareness. The automation of many policies and procedures in decision management systems will eliminate the need for staff to be able to parrot these policies or look them up and so enable a more valuable focus on real skills.
I don’t think EDM will necessarily eliminate line managers but I do think it can make their jobs more interesting, more rewarding and more profitable for their employers.