Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A wry look at the “science” of management

It’s gratifying to see something you’ve always suspected validated in print by a thoughtful observer who has given the matter much thought. Matthew Stewart looks at the “Management Myth” - herewith a sample:
The recognition that management theory is a sadly neglected subdiscipline of philosophy began with an experience of déjà vu. As I plowed through my shelfload of bad management books, I beheld a discipline that consists mainly of unverifiable propositions and cryptic anecdotes, is rarely if ever held accountable, and produces an inordinate number of catastrophically bad writers. It was all too familiar. There are, however, at least two crucial differences between philosophers and their wayward cousins. The first and most important is that philosophers are much better at knowing what they don’t know. The second is money. In a sense, management theory is what happens to philosophers when you pay them too much.
A gem of an essay (H/T: Captain Heinrichs).


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JeffS said...

Do not get me started on "modern" "management".

Just....don't. It ain't pretty.

Paco said...

Jeff: Here's a statistic I just made up, but I bet it's true: 99% of new management ideas ultimately wind up as jokes in Dilbert cartoons.

JeffS said...

Paco, I suspect that 100% of new managers take Dilbert seriously, as a professional resource, and not as a cartoon.

Gregoryno6 said...

Here's another totally fictitious (but plausible) statistic: beyond a certain level in any given organisation, 100% of managers will begin to breathe a different oxygen. From that point on their decisions will be incomprehensible to the people below them.

Paco said...

Gregory: Oh, that's not fictitious at all. I have personally verified it.

JeffS said...

And so have I. Why, just this morning, I watched senior managers babble incoherently, through e-mail and in person. One minute, my boss "owned" a project he was told not to do, and was to brief it at a meeting in a hour or two.

A few minutes later, thanks to some amazing personal skills on his part, he was excused from that meeting.

And -- possibly -- from "owning" the project as well. That isn't certain as yet. If it ever will.

Like I said, don't get me started on "modern" "management". It ain't pretty.

JorgXMcKie said...

Having endured a series of "new management concepts" guarandamnteed to make everything work perfectly [or at least way, way better] and now teaching a certain amount of management stuff, I really enjoyed this piece.

Most of it is crap. [I don't say all of it because I haven't seen all of it. All of it that I have seen, however, has been crap.]