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Chapter 1: Managers and management: Changing roles

Welcome to the first-semester’s blog posts for 2017 for Management: The Essentials.  This is where we’ll broaden the understanding of Chapter 1: Managers and Management.  Let’s get started!

To start with…

…refresh your knowledge of managers’ titles on page 6, and managerial roles on pages 8 to 11 of the textbook.  Then check out a recent story of indigenous youth groups engaging with Hip Hop across the country.  Their story exposes us to organisations of various shapes and sizes, so we have an opportunity to take a close look.

Let’s look at all of those.

So, to summarise…

Besides traditional money-making businesses, other organisations also have managers who fulfil important roles.  A good example are indigenous teenagers groups across Australia, such as The B-Town Warriors from Bourke High School in north-western New South Wales, and their productive collaboration with Desert Pea Media.  Various indigenous youth groups across Australia are now using hip hop and social media to bring attention to social issues affecting their communities.

Over the last 15 years, Desert Pea Media, based in the northern New South Wales town of Byron Bay, is a registered charity that has been visiting remote Indigenous communities to help locals tell their stories through performance.  In recent years, the organisation focused on producing hip hop music videos with Indigenous teenagers.  The reason for this focus is that members of remote communities in Australia relate to American hip-hop and gangster rap.  Expressing local stories with this style of music makes an authentic communication of Australian experiences.

One of the biggest challenges Desert Pea Media faced was bringing Indigenous teenagers out of their shells and getting them to participate.  Young indigenous people tend to experience strong shame over their culture, origins, and identity.  Toby Finlayson, the founder of Desert Pea, explains that for several generations, young Indigenous people have received such messages.  This process of proudly telling their story plays an important role in changing this view within the indigenous community.  Getting the youth to do that is a similar challenge to engaging employees in their work, and in inspiring them to express their full potential.

To engage the teenagers in music and video production, Desert Pea Media designed the projects to accommodate for people with no experience, and to provide an experience which results in strong positive feelings.  This is done in a group, which first discusses issues affecting the community and ideal solutions for them.  For example, smoking during pregnancy, bullying, suicide, are mental health are issues of concern.  These issues are discussed among the local teenagers, with Desert Pea Media members facilitating.  Questions like: what is the issue, where does it come from, why does it exist and why does it continue, how would it look in a perfect world, and what can the people in the conversation do as individuals, communities, and as a nation, to solve the problem.

The process helps engage the young performers in several ways.  First, by designing a process that does not require previous experience or skill level, the performers are less intimidated by the tasks involved.  Also, being part of a group and not being ‘on the spot’ helps them gain confidence.  In addition, the young performers get immersed in the content of their creative production, and have a strong ownership over the outcome.  Finally, each member’s contribution to the performance is not only voluntary and self-driven, but also strongly relates to their self-identity and self-value.  This way, they can take pride in the shared outcome.

Besides facilitating the creative process, a charity must also raise funding.  Having a successful creative product, such as a popular video, helps with branding the organisation and with developing its image.  These creative products also serve to elevate the status of the institutions that the young performers are part of, such as their schools and their communities.  These mutually beneficial outcomes are really what management and organisations should be all about: creating value and benefits to all stakeholders involved ultimately benefits society and humanity as a whole.

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Three characteristics of an organisation
  • Managerial titles
  • Managerial functions
  • Managerial skills

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. There are two different types of organisations involved in story.  Identify them, and identify how they would vary across the three characteristics of organisations described in Figure 1.1, on p. 5.
  2. Identify the titles of managers who would be involved directly, and indirectly, in the production of the songs and videos described in the article.
  3. Think of the four management functions (p. 8-9).  How would the managers in each type of the organisations you’ve identified in question 1 address each of these functions when they operate to achieve their goals?

Have a look at the managerial skills listed on page 11.  How would these skills be used by the different managers in the different organisations you’ve identified?

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