The rise or fall of management

Chris Dillow wonders whether managerial control has stifled innovation:

Could it be that the spread of managerialism and the pursuit of “efficiency” in the static sense of trying to maximize output for given inputs has squeezed out innovation?

Two things suggest an affirmative answer. One is casual empiricism: the growth of managerialism has been followed by a decline in trend labour productivity growth. The other is a paper from David Audretsch and colleagues, which shows that since the late 70s innovation has tended to come less from incumbent firms and more from new ventures.

I will leave the second bit of this, productivity and innovation, for another day. For now, though, I’m not convinced that we have seen a growth in managerialism, if we define that as hierarchy, control and the close management of people.

For at least the past 100 years, firms have employed professional managers with the aim of making their organisations more efficient, productive and profitable. This development is often associated with the godfather of scientific management, FW Taylor. Since the 1970s, there has been a shift away from Taylor’s ideas or, at least, there has been in management theory. Ever since I joined the corporate world in the late 80s, most of the talk has been of empowering employees and getting rid of layers of management.

Evidence for the benefits of management delayering is patchy, to say the least, and, despite the vogue for it in the 1990s, it doesn’t seem to have reduced the number of managers in the UK. According to UKCES, managers, directors and senior officials accounted for about 8 percent of the workforce in 1992. The ONS figure for May 2015 is around 9 percent. Allowing for the growth in the workforce, then, the number of managers hasn’t changed much. If the proportion of managers is anything to go by, we are no more or less managed than we were at the end of the 1980s.

How far the day-to-day supervision and control of employees has changed over the past three decades or so is also difficult to assess. The experience is probably different depending on the sort of work people do. There has been a big expansion in the number of professional and technical roles. It is this, rather than managerial employment, that has created the cocktail glass effect. I couldn’t find much evidence of this but, anecdotally, I would say that close supervision of these employees has diminished over the past decade. For example, I know of a number of employers who no longer require people to clock in and out. Many of those in technical and professional roles are given more freedom to work away from the office and the emphasis on presenteeism is no longer as strong.

Certainly most of the offices I see these days don’t feel as regimented as they did when I started work. Then again, these days my relationship with the hierarchy is different. I’m usually there as an advisor to someone senior so I’m not experiencing the power and status differences as acutely as someone who works there all the time. As ever, I suspect that the more layers there are above you on the organisation chart, the more heavy the hierarchy feels.

None of this is to say that close supervision is a thing of the past. In some occupations it is as prevalent as it ever was and there are examples of places more tightly controlled than ever they used to be. Briefly, in the 1980s, I worked in a warehouse and it was nothing like this. In some call centres there is a war of attrition between Big Brother managers and slacking employees. But many of the routine jobs that used to be subject to strict time management have been automated or offshored.

To look at the articles that appear in my Twitter timeline, the future of work is all about technology driven collaboration, Teal organisations, self-managed teams and working from anywhere. Management is a busted flush and bureaucracy must die. Oh and, of course, there’s holacracy.

Yet there is also a lot of talk about software that will predict who is likely to leave the organisation and companies using wearables to monitor not only their workers’ whereabouts but also their health. There are even systems which claim to be able to spot rogue employees by analysing emails, texts and social media activity.

Arguments about the need for supervision versus the benefits of worker autonomy have been going on for centuries. They probably had them when they were building the pyramids. This is from Roman landowner Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella in the first century:

Nowadays I make it a practice to call them into consultation on any new work and to discover by this means what sort of ability is possessed by each of them. Furthermore, I observe that they are more willing to set about a piece of work on which they think that their opinions have been asked and their advice followed.

The history of work, though, is mostly one of compulsion. Some sort of vassalage and work obligation existed in almost all agrarian societies. In Britain, as soon as people began to break the chains of feudalism, new laws were brought in to keep them in line. The desire to control people and make them work runs deep.

I don’t think that this will change. The zeitgeist among management theorists may advocate worker autonomy but technology offers so much scope for monitoring and controlling people that the temptation to do so will be too great for some. Forms of control may change with technology and social norms but I doubt that we will see the death of management that some predict.

Are we more closely managed at work now than we were twenty of thirty years ago? I’d say no more but probably not a lot less, it’s just that the ways of controlling people have changed. Technological developments will offer new possibilities for both autonomy and control. Expect the battle between Theory X and Theory Y to go on for some time yet.

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9 Responses to The rise or fall of management

  1. Jamie says:

    I spent many years working in business and government, first as an employee but mostly as a consultant. Two comments.

    First, I suspect that you would be better to start with innovation and then explore management. You can only judge management based on what it is trying to do. For example, a business like Apple has core skills of design, sales & marketing and procurement & supplier management. The relationship between management and staff is probably different in each of these areas. Also the relationships between Apple and its suppliers are different compared with the equivalent relationships if Apple undertook all of the activities in its supply chain itself. Also, the relationships will be different in a business like Apple whose lifeblood is new products and differentiated ideas compared with, say, a utility where operational efficiency and safety are paramount.

    Second, one of the worst types of manager is one who looks at high level data and then makes sweeping claims (often based on his own prior beliefs). “Sales are down again this week. I bet it’s that Jamie in sales who is not pulling his weight. I never did like him”. Thankfully there are few managers like that. However, that is exactly the behaviour we see from economists who declare that they can’t see any innovation in their high level statistics and then conclude that all management must be useless. Innovation is about increasing value whereas GDP statistics are about spending & price. These are not equivalents. Supermarkets now save us time by taking orders over the internet and delivering groceries free of charge. That is innovative and value enhancing for customers. However, it will not show up in high level economic statistics. Only the customer and the supermarket will know about this innovation. The customer will have more free time and the supermarket will create increased brand loyalty in its customers.

    • Florence says:

      As someone with a similar background, as an IS consultant, I agree with much of your analysis. However, your choice of home shopping as innovative looked at in depth shows a much different picture. The taking of internet orders is not innovation, but built on the existing stable infrastructure (i.e state funded high speed internet and with high population coverage). The customer may perceive this as innovative, but there are low skill, low security, high physical labour jobs created that are modern treadmills, without any real innovation in supply chain per se. If your productivity is measured by the number of tins sold per unit of labour, the picking staff have a lot more to do per tin than those who put whole cases on shelves to be picked & carried off by shoppers, (but the shopper expects the same price for either, but that’s another issue).

      So even in the lower skilled jobs, there is some reduction in productivity – unless the measurement is changed to reflect something other – in this example it may as you say be that customer retention and hence life-time value of the customer shopping rather than units sold. But that can’t be easily apportioned placed as “value per worker hour”.

      The worker picking the goods for each online purchase is subject to absolute control, through mobile devices directing each action including the time they are “allowed” to reach the next picking destination, tweaked to keep the workers in a constant state of anxiety and moving faster than is physically desirable for long shifts. It is a technology but based on fairly old school time & motion. This is where the degradation of productivity is in the UK, as the low wage, low skilled economy is cheaper to burn-out the cheap disposable worker than to install state of the art robots, which of course would also involve developing the robotics industry – a high skilled, high productivity sector. So I fundamentally disagree with your definition of innovation.

      • Jamie says:

        Florence, I agree with some of what you say but not all.

        My example was merely intended to show that businesses can be innovative without impacting high level economic statistics. I think that my point holds even if there is more to internet-based shopping than I mentioned in my earlier post. Other innovations would work just as well. A supermarket might improve the quality of its food without changing the price. We already eat too much so improved food quality is unlikely to increase overall demand for food.

        Any innovation has costs and benefits and risks. The costs and benefits often accrue to different people e.g. the benefits of home delivery for customers versus the costs of boring jobs for workers. You can’t say that innovation must avoid imposing new costs on anyone. I accept that internet shopping has costs in terms of creating boring jobs but that doesn’t mean that it’s not innovation.

        I agree than internet shopping builds on a pre-existing telecoms infrastructure. However, that is what infrastructure is for. If we excluded use of existing infrastructure from innovation then we would have to exclude anything involving the education system; any travel network; any energy network; the banking system; and the telecoms network. There wouldn’t be much innovation left.

        I agree that using robotics for stock picking would be more innovative than not using robotics but that’s a different innovation from internet shopping. You can’t say that one thing is not an innovation because it is not also another thing. I have seen many innovations fail because businesses or public sector organisations tried to do too much at the same time.

        I agree that a robotics industry would be highly valuable and more innovative than internet shopping. I don’t know enough about robotics to comment much further. However, I suspect that a robotics industry would develop along the lines of Apple i.e. focusing on design, sales & marketing and outsourcing of manufacturing to the Far East. It would mostly provide high value jobs in the UK only for a very small number of talented designers. I also suspect that it will come in time. I can’t see why supermarkets would resist robotic stock picking if it were cost effective. I have a mate who has set up a business in the internet-of-things area. That’s pretty innovative too. However, all these things take time to develop.

  2. Dave Timoney says:

    Apart from relying on anecdotes, there are two secular changes that we can reasonably assume have had an impact on management practice: globalisation and technology.

    Globalisation produced two notable strands in management theory. The first was “total quality” (encompassing process engineering and statistical control), with its emphasis on standardisation, cross-silo management and core competences. This helped dismantle the traditional Fordist organisation (the success of Deming and Juran in Japan, after little interest in the US, is a tale of differential stages of globalisation). The second was “delayering” and self-managed teams, which in practice was usually accompanied by “strategic alignment” – i.e. increasing central control under the cover of empowerment.

    The first provided a vocabulary for the evolution of true multinationals (i.e. operating supranationally and engaging in regulatory arbitrage). This normalised mergers and acquisitions, by appealing to an international epitome, and was thus a key element of workplace neoliberalism. The second strand neutralised nationally-based business cultures and potential centres of political resistance. Behavioural micromanagement was replaced by ideological harmonisation and the growth of an international business class (MBAs, superstar pay etc).

    We also know that technology has substituted for much close management in the form of CCTV, electronic surveillance and RFID. But while this has reduced traditional line manager roles, it has also increased analytical roles, which includes not only IT bods scanning emails but management accounts and much of HR. This could be interpreted as a social (albeit sectional) countermovement to preserve whitecollar roles in the face of automation, but it could also indicate a subconscious acceptance by senior management that performative loyalty is still necessary to provide organisational glue until full automation is achieved. In other words, we have a lot of pseudo-management jobs that may well quickly evaporate in the future.

  3. Truth to Power says:

    The purpose of business is to create wealth which is achieved by providing a products or services. Innovation is fundamental to wealth creation so I would agree with Jamie that management is not the correct place to start. Management is simply an activity that facilitate the running of that business, it may increase wealth creation by making that business run more efficient, but it facilitates, rather than creates wealth. Joseph Schumpeter (the father of ‘Creative Destruction’) who wrote ‘Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy’, http://www.amazon.com/Capitalism-Socialism-Democracy-Third-Edition/dp/0061561614 would have understood this.

    Chris Dillow makes some interesting points http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2015/06/managerialism-vs-innovation.html and https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/the-rise-or-fall-of-management/, however, in some ways both appear to be over-simplifying a rather complex problem. The problem is that managers often have flawed mental models, and do not have the models necessary to understand such complex organisations.

    The loss of innovation, which hinders the growth of our economy, is because our scientists lost their freedoms and have become hostage to ‘branding’ and ‘corporatism’ (collectivism rather than individualism). Most of our most successful companies are not run by people who started their careers with management degrees, MBA and the likes; Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, etc., http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1988080_1988093_1988082,00.html, so perhaps that tells us something.

    When I started my career in science, academic, and government scientists, had immense freedom to create tacit knowledge which enabled them to innovate. Science within industry draw from explicit knowledge, in a quest to generate money for money for their company, often smothering innovation to protect own businesses. Would Hoover have embraced Dyson for his bugless vacuum cleaner? No their profits were made by selling paper bags … Dysons ideas would have been patented (to stop anyone using them), and he would have been put into quarantine and hidden in a cupboard to be forgotten about.

    Each profession has its own meta-languages, the members within a corporate environments rarely share those languages; science is usually performed by an individual, or within a small cluster of trusted friends and colleagues who have complementary knowledge, skills, and personalities (requisite variety). Managers rarely understand such relationships, which they see as being diversity, which to them means ‘protected characteristics’ (race, sexuality, orientation, disabilities, etc.,), the formulation of such relationships is complex and cannot be managed. Such managed groupings rarely work.

    A few years ago I wrote the attached to a new member of our Executive. My note was politely received but was ignored as it did not align with the Executives own mental models:

    START OF NOTE

    The ground upon which we build is in a constant flux of changing; soft and muddy in the rainy seasons, hard and cracked during droughts, and in some cases dry arid deserts. The architect of a building needs to consider the purpose of a building, materials used for construction, and the ground upon which it is built. Large modern commercial buildings sit on top of reinforced concrete cores drilled into the ground, on top of which sits a reinforced a concrete raft onto which is bolted the walls and machinery contained within the building … the raft being the floor plate (but I suspect that you know that). Organisations are constructed in a similar manner; we need to understand its purpose, employ skilled architects and builders, perform the appropriate groundwork, using the correct organisational design, and employ the most appropriate expertise.

    In their formative years Departments of State recruited their staff mainly through political or aristocratic patronage. In 1853 Gladstone commissioned Sir Stafford Northcote (first served in the Civil Service at the Board of Trade, and then as Private Secretary to Gladstone) and Charles Trevelyan to look into the operation and organization of the entire Civil Service. Their report made four recommendations:

    1. Recruitment should be entirely on the basis of merit by open, competitive examinations
    2. Entrants should have a good ‘generalist’ education and should be recruited to a unified Civil Service and not a specific department, to allow inter-departmental transfers.
    3. Recruits should be placed into a hierarchical structure of classes and grades
    4. Promotion would be on the basis of merit not on the grounds of ‘preferment, patronage or purchase’.

    Despite a number of reviews of the Civil Service the ‘meritocracy’ that they put in place has remained to this day (this history is contained on the link http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/a-partial-history-of-the-civil-service/the-origins-of-the-modern-civil-service-the-1850s ).

    In 1996 the government introduced ‘Next Steps’ which changed the structure and workings of the Civil Service. At that time and to this date those agencies were meant to be ‘Business-like’ (function in a professional manner) but not intended to ‘become a Business’. In parallel with the turmoil was in the process of preparing the Ministry of Defence Public Sector Research Establishments to become ‘a business’ ready for privatization (see ‘The QinetiQ Question – A Public Scandal or a National Triumph?’ Published by John Chisholm; 1 edition (21 Dec 2011)). This lead to the being split into two parts and in 2001.

    During the early to mid 1900’s Joseph Schumpeter (one of the most important economists of that century) had written ‘The perfectly bureaucratized giant industrial unit not only ousts the small or medium-sized firm and “expropriates” its owners, but in the end it also ousts the entrepreneur and expropriates the bourgeoisie as a class which in the process stands to lose not only its income but also what is infinitely more important, its function.’

    He had also written the ‘Schumpeterian trilogy’ (DTI Economics Paper No 12 The Empirical Economics of Standards et al) which divides the technological change process into three distinct phases:

    • INVENTION
    • INNOVATION
    • DIFFUSION

    Each of these phases requires different styles of management and business models; ‘invention’ and ‘innovation’ phases being entrepreneurial business models (horizontally integrated), whilst manufacture and ‘diffusion’ phase are the public corporate models visible to the public (vertically integrated). As far as I know (arguable) sits within the ‘invention’ and ‘innovation’ part of the trilogy, whereas manufacture and ‘diffusion’ correctly lies within Defence Industry. It is a mystery why our organisation has chosen to adopt a strong corporate branded structure (similar to industry) rather than using an entrepreneurial type of business model. Interestingly other government departments such as the Inland Revenue, Social Services, Boarder Agencies, etc., align most closely with ‘diffusion’ an example of where one solution does not fit all.

    The late Steve JOBs said (though some think that it may have been his advertising agency):

    ‘Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.’

    It was also stated that:

    The Macintosh project was going to save Apple from the bloated Lisa project and the bureaucracy of the company. He tried to insufflate the team with entrepreneurial values, calling them rebels and artists, while the other Apple employees were bozos. The team was even in a separate building on Bandley Drive, where Steve hung a pirate flag: “better be a pirate than join the Navy,” he said — meaning the Navy was the rest of Apple.’

    Returning to ‘Schumpeter’s trilogy’; the ‘invention’ and ‘innovation’ were conducted at Apple Bandley Drive (which flew a Pirate Flag), whereas the manufacture and ‘the diffusion of the innovation’s output’ sat within Apple’s Corporate Headquarters the part that was managed by John Sculley (an expert in marketing).

    It is interesting to note that the US corporations recognize ‘Schumpeter’s trilogy’ and place their ‘invention’ and ‘innovation’ elsewhere such as Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC), formerly known as Xerox PARC, which has a flat horizontally integrated non-corporate structure.

    We know from Richard Foster and Sarah Kaplan, in their book ‘Creative Destruction: Why Companies That Are Built to Last Underperform the Market–And How to Successfully Transform them’ that Corporations, which have hierarchical structures, kill innovation, underperform but create sustained employment.

    Following the split the new CE of the retained part did not appear to recognize the change in course required by the split … and even to this day that organisation has continued along the same path of the , and uses the same performance metrics that were introduced by in the 1990’s. Being unclear of its role followed the path of becoming a business, becoming more Corporate, and introducing Branding, and failing to embrace diversity (the requisite variety required to create an innovative workforce) by trying to modify ‘square pegs to fit round holes’. The organization, adopted ‘patronage’ rather than ‘meritocracy’, and has almost becoming an inverted pyramid the problems of which are explained in http://hbr.org/2011/12/first-lets-fire-all-the-managers . The ability of the organisation to operate as a ‘meritocracy’ are thwarted due to degradation within the gene pool and various strategies applied within the management strands. This explains the low morale of the scientific staff (see the recent ‘Have Your Say Surveys’), scientists feeling that they have no clear career path, the perceived shortage of scientists, and the extremely low utilization. The need for organizational change is self evident but what changes are made tend to be autopoietic increasing the overhead, whilst creating dysfunction (stress) with the other parts of the system that are themselves individually antipoetic. Oliver LETWIN had some interesting views on efficiency within the Civil and Public Services http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2011/jul/30/public-sector-jobs-oliver-letwin.

    Whilst searching the internet looking for the opposite of ‘meritocracy’ I came across a 1997 website written by Steve Chrisomalis. In the third paragraph he talks about ‘radical equalize’ (see link http://phrontistery.info/merit.html) in which he states ‘If merit is no longer the primary hiring criterion, the result is a void in purpose criteria, leaving open a path for representativeness to replace merit as the primary criterion for hiring. This position is held by some theorists, particularly in the United States, where rigid quotas have been imposed which circumvent merit altogether on the assumption that all groups of candidates will have the same distribution of candidate quality. Thus, while not advocating true equality throughout all elements of society, the position taken is that groups will, on average, have the same percentage of qualified, under qualified and incompetent candidates, and that any deviation from this in actual hiring must, therefore, be the result of discriminatory practices.’

    As I have explained from its inception has deviated (as wise observers in the humanities and social sciences with its anthropology will recognise) from ‘the meritocratic principles’ advocated by ‘Northcote Trevelyan Report’ and has adopted ‘patronage’ by managing appointments into posts. Interestingly the new performance management system that has developed out of ‘Civil Service Reform’ appears to be an attempt to rectify this situation.

    Over the past decade the  Department has valued corporatism, and branding, more highly than ‘Truth to Power’, and have suffered from the major cuts to research funding, and this has resulted in similar destructive behaviours that have been observed within . Marginalisation from  and other programmes have had major effects upon our  expertise to the extent that it has been largely eradicated. This has been an interesting social experiment masked by positive thinking see June Gruber Assistant Professor of Psychology, Director, Positive Emotion & Psychopatology Lab, Yale University http://www.edge.org/panel/headcon-13-part-ii comments:

    ‘…individuals who experience this sort of heightened magnitude of positive emotion (this is measured in a lot of different ways, using self-report scales, and also with children, parent and teacher-rated observations) out of balance; it causes you to neglect important threats and dangers, and pieces of information in the environment around you. And so as a result we see associations with greater risk taking—engaging in reckless driving, substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices. Some people would argue that this may help explain this one finding: looking at children who were rated in terms of their dispositional cheerfulness, and followed them longitudinally over the lifespan, and what you find is that children who were rated as more highly cheerful actually had a greater mortality risk later in life.’

    In the next few years a third of the defence procurement budget will be allocated to  programmes, however, we are scarcely prepared for those changes.

    I’m rather curious to know where you see future, and how it should be changed or is ‘Creative Destruction’ the only path that remains?

    To summarise the key issues are:

    • Corporatism and branding is stripping people of their identities and killing innovation … is this an appropriate management model for ;
    • Government want us to be ‘business-like’ but the executive are trying to create a ‘business’;
    • Converting ‘square pegs’ to fit ‘round holes’;
    • Patronage rather than meritocracy;
    • A lack of career path for scientists;
    • Organisation is top heavy with not necessarily the correct people;
    • Intellectual capital.

    PS: Napoleon Bonaparte’s policy of meritocracy? Espoused and demanded it within his government, but was noteworthy for the abuse on a personal basis by appointing family members, friends and close associates who had little or no merit to advance them to such positions as Kings of Nations.

    END OF NOTE

    Returning to the original question; organisations are made up of parts, each component of which needs to be managed differently. Scientists and innovators need to be managed and rewarded in one way (invention and innovation) given freedom and expression within a flat management structure, manufacturing managed within a lean incentivised hierarchical structure, whilst sales (diffusion) needs to be managed perhaps as a hierarchical corporate structure.

    I agree with most of what Chris Dillow states, however, I take exception to the phrase ‘hierarchical capitalism’ which is ‘corporatism’, but is being described as ‘capitalism’, such corporate organisations are ‘collectivist’ and have their roots in ‘Socialism’. ‘Capitalism’ is ‘individualism’ which is why ‘start ups’ are the true ‘wealth creators’. Such small companies generate most of their wealth within their first ten years after which they are bought up by the ‘corporations’ who need them for those ‘corporations’ to survival. Some ‘start-ups’ notably ‘.com companies’ manage to continue to innovate, however, many are acquired by large corporations, for huge amounts of money and then simply collapse producing very little wealth for their new owners. Arguably corporations are not true ‘wealth creators’ but simply exist to provide employment, survive, which creates the markets which the capitalist feed. Interestingly within the UK, and increasingly within the US, governments are becoming increasingly ‘corporatist’ rather than being truly ‘capitalist’.

    Your comments about the changes have been taking place within industry is fascination. This is totally the opposite to the Scientific Civil Service where things have gone in the opposite direction; management has increased out of all proportion, corporatism and branding are god; bureaucracy has taken control, and it is now where managers try to tightly, if not rigidly, controls the scientist behaviours, attitudes, their thinking, it has removed individualism, imposed ‘collectivism’ whilst trying to create a corporate environment where the scientists are forced to becoming easily managed ‘corporate beings’ … rather than difficult to manage boffins.

    When I first met my wife she would say ‘don’t you work with anyone normal’ … I didn’t the people who I worked with had very special characteristics … they were chosen for their expertise and abilities to innovate. But today the people that I work with are standardised corporate beings. The net result is that the people who I work with today are less colourful, are bland, and conform to the corporate structures – this means that you need to watch your back and makes life much less interesting. The organisation is now completely wrecked, and this has destroyed its ability to innovate, so it now acquires innovation from elsewhere.

    Countries like the US seem to understand innovation and are able to manage these relationships with scientists well – and this accounts for their success. Remember that Xerox recognised that innovation was being destroyed by their own corporate structure and hence created PARC to perform innovation, and this was a major success. Steve Jobs formed Apple and had a natural aptitude to manage innovation, but when John Sculley took control he tried probably tried to manage the scientists in a corporate way, presumably acquired from his previous career marketing ‘sugar water’ and he failed spectacularly, thus needing Steve Jobs to pull Apple back from the brink of disaster to create the success that we see today. The evidence is all around us however you first need to understand the meta-language, remove your corporate tinted spectacles, and understand what you are really seeing. Sadly the UK struggles to understand such relationships and create corporate military command control structures which clearly do not work.

    So the answer is YES IT WOULD BE THE END OF THAT ORGANISATION, THE END OF INNOVATION, AND THE END OF IT’S MANAGEMENT, AND TROUBLE FOR UK PLC.

  4. Truth to Power says:

    Hi,

    I accidentally stumbled on this this evening and found it highly relevant to your blog.

    In Business, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05v6gr4 from @bbcradio4 via @BBCiPlayerRadio.

  5. Kamo says:

    I work for a big telco and my experience is of a move towards increasing numbers of managers who have no genuine/tacit technical skill or expertise in the products and services the company offers, instead they are accountants, marketing gurus or management consultants who tend to rely on generic systems and techniques regardless of whether they are optimal for the specific circumstances. There is very much a view amongst the senior rungs that technical and operational matters are just “details” and what matters is a high level view, where magical thinking can fill the gap between “ambitions” stated on a glossy slide deck and all the stubborn, awkward and difficult details someone else has to do in the real world to get there. The lack of grounding in the underlying business causes problems; they get lazy and roll out the same stock responses when they really need to address specific problems with specific solutions, it fosters an attitude lower down the chain that the “details” are not valued which results in sub-optimal deliveries where details really are crucial, also because generic managers rotate they lack context and we end up with the same issues cropping up and the same mistakes or misunderstanding occur over and over again. What I’ve found most ironic is that whilst every effort is made to automate and outsource technical operations the same doesn’t apply to generic management, you can get the same generic lazy shit from half a dozen senior managers yet everyone is supposed to indulge the conceit it has some special value because it’s coming from a senior manager. I go to meetings and think we could get some MBA graduate from India to phone in most of the senior management contribution, it would save the company a fortune!

  6. Pingback: Mettre à nue sa culture organisationelle – Le « Making of » | Agile Partnership

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