Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Management Theory, Anyone?


Absolutely loved this article. Feast for thought...! (Link and extracts below)


The Management Myth - Magazine - The Atlantic
    • One of the distinguishing features of anything that aspires to the name of science is the reproducibility of experimental results
      • Another, even more fundamental feature of science—here I invoke the ghost of Karl Popper—is that it must produce falsifiable propositions
        • Over the past century Taylor’s successors have developed a powerful battery of statistical methods and analytical approaches to business problems. And yet the world of management remains deeply Taylorist in its foundations.
          • Much of management theory today is in fact the consecration of class interest—not of the capitalist class, nor of labor, but of a new social group: the management class.
            • Each new fad calls attention to one virtue or another—first it’s efficiency, then quality, next it’s customer satisfaction, then supplier satisfaction, then self-satisfaction, and finally, at some point, it’s efficiency all over again
              • But what happened to such stalwarts as McKinsey, which generated millions in fees from Enron and supplied it with its CEO?
                • Our firm wasn’t about bureaucratic control and robotic efficiency in the pursuit of profit. It was about love
                  • “R-I-P. Rip, shred, tear, mutilate, destroy that hierarchy,” said ├╝ber-guru Tom Peters, with characteristic understatement
                    • The lessons Mayo drew from the experiment are in fact indistinguishable from those championed by the gurus of the nineties: vertical hierarchies based on concepts of rationality and control are bad; flat organizations based on freedom, teamwork, and fluid job definitions are good.
                      • On further scrutiny, however, it turned out that two workers who were deemed early on to be “uncooperative” had been replaced with friendlier women
                        • It was a way of harnessing the workers’ sense of identity and well-being to the goals of the organization, an effort to get each worker to participate in an ever more refined form of her own enslavement.
                          • The Taylorite rationalist says: Be efficient! The Mayo-ist humanist replies: Hey, these are people we’re talking about! And the debate goes on
                            • In most managerial jobs, almost everything you need to know to succeed must be learned on the job
                              • No,” he said, shaking his head with feigned chagrin. “There are only three forces in this case. And two of them are in the Finance Ministry.”
                                • but the point is rather lost if students come away imagining that you can go home once you’ve put all of your eggs into a two-by-two growth-share matrix.
                                  • Taylor’s pig iron case was not a description of some aspect of physical reality—how many tons can a worker lift? It was a prescription—how many tons should a worker lift? The real issue at stake in Mayo’s telephone factory was not factual—how can we best establish a sense of teamwork? It was moral—how much of a worker’s sense of identity and well-being does a business have a right to harness for its purposes?

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