Fifth-Generation Management

Fifth-generation management will emerge post-Covid because historically, big sharp disruptions have reliably triggered discontinuous changes in management culture.

For better or worse, the connection between military and business evolution happens to be historically solid, and seems set to remain true. In the past this was much stronger, due to a large number of men serving in wars and then entering business, and business being male-dominated. Today, the coupling mainly has to do with relative rates of technology adoption in military vs business evolution, and to a lesser extent, shared exogenous events affecting both military and business affairs.

Before we get into it, a couple of caveats. First, as with any clean, linear, sequential or cyclic model applied to a messy branching, evolutionary reality, you have to apply it very tastefully. You have to think like a historical artisan, matching up the conceptual boundaries of a constructivist notion you’re working with to real history. And where they don’t line up, actual historical events should shape your thinking rather than the abstract idea of one sequence of generations driving another. Second caveat, don’t make the mistake of thinking that each generation fully displaces the previous one in either military or business. Instead, it adds a new layer, and the older layer simply gets confined to a small zone of the action. Generations accumulate like geological layers, they don’t displace each other.

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