Monday, 7 June 2010

In step with Management.

Left, right, left, right, left. Is good management Left or Right?

Neither ‘of course’. Management is apolitical! Right? Management objectively, dispassionately maximises value for shareholders.

In a recently broadcast video clip from a few years back, BP’s CEO, addressing what looks like an MBA seminar, says “BP has spent too much time saving the world and it’s time to get back to maximising value to shareholders.” 

A super lucky survivor of the BP’s recent deep-sea rig explosion and fire (he jumped 100’ from the rig into the oil covered burning sea because the life boats had already gone) reported that despite clear evidence that the rubber blow-out seal had been seriously damaged, with consequent serious risk of blow-out and fire, Management decided not to stop and fix it. There was pressure to  be ready for BP officials due to visit  the rig to celebrate the success and recognise the project’s safety record! It’s like a re-run of the Challenger disaster but massively more destructive.

The survivor reported  officials were on the rig when it blew up. Maybe it was the officials who broke strict protocol and abandoned ship (and many crew including the captain) before accounting for everyone.

Managers are in charge, right? They have authority to hire and fire right? Who’s anatomy’s on the line if things go wrong? The manager’s, right? Who makes the decisions? Managers, right? Who’s job is it to know and be right? Managers’, right? If you’re wrong or you don’t know you’re not fit to be a manager right? Right! Yeah, right.

These assumptions are endemic in many (perhaps most) organisations despite espousals and ‘systems’ to the contrary. They are made by both managers and managed alike. These assumptions persist despite overwhelming evidence that they are not only unproductive but are destructive except perhaps in large scale replication where people are  no more than substitute machine parts. 

Are these characteristics and attributes of capital “M” for Management hallmarks of  the (political) Right? Are the critics of Management lackeys of the Left?

For instance, those who question the wisdom of Management are typically assumed to be questioning established authority; to be ‘bolshie’ – politically Left.

Management tends to favour maintaining established values and hierarchy:  characteristics typically regarded as politically Right.

Those who advocate and live collaboration, sharing, and collective responsibility are typically regarded as  politically Left.

Management practice generally  promotes individual responsibility and reward; characteristics typically regarded as politically Right.

Even Christianity seems somehow to be identified with the political Right even though Christianity questions authority and promotes sharing community, at the same time as it promotes traditional values and individual responsibility.

It seems to me that good management and Christianity are neither Left nor Right and may actually have a lot in common.

Much of contemporary popular management literature effectively plagiarises Biblical wisdom. Take for instance vision and purpose led business; discovering and playing to individuals’ strengths; discovering the engaging, innovating power of doing good things together; selling goods and services and optimising supply chains through genuine, mutually serving relationships and collaboration; individuals’ responsibility to maximise the value of their talents.

The sooner we remove the blinkers of political stereotyping and get seriously down to the work of turning the Word or words into living reality, the better.

How many environmental and economic catastrophes does it take for interrelational behaviour-change to be explicit in every organisation’s top five strategic priorities? When will specific interpersonal behaviour-change figure in everyone’s KPIs?

Pretty damn soon I hope.


No comments:

Post a Comment