cw453545_cw391140_The Management Myth

cw453545_cw391140_The Management Myth - JUN-lZ-ZEIDB 13...

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Unformatted text preview: JUN-lZ-ZEIDB 13:]? FROM- 550-354-1303 T-lEE RUM/DDT F-lll ————--— ~~—-— THE ATLANTIC MoNTHtY - - --————————-- ~——v— -—-- THE MANAGEMENT MYTH Mart ofmonagemmr ricer/J73; tit ozone writer our carves}?de Mefiunder ifs «consulting fifyou wan! to succeed in bunkers; don ’rger rm MflA. Sludyp/zflonyJ/zy instead 31’ MATTHEW STEWART Nina‘frrurulu gr filart- Rasrli'rdrh' uring the seven years that I worked as a management D consultant, I spent a lor of time trying to look older than i was. I became pretty good at litrrowing my brow and putting on somber expressions. Those who saw through my disguise assumed lniade up for my youth with a fabulous education in management. They were wrong about that. I don‘t have an MBA. I have a docmral degree in pbilosophy—uineteenth-century German philosophy. to be precise. Before I took a job telling managers of large corporations things that they arguably shortld have known already. my work experience was limited to part-time gigs tutoring surly undergraduates in the ways of Hegel and Nietzsche and to a handful of summer jobs, mostly in the less appetizing ends of the fast-food industry. The strange thing abour my utter lack of education in management was that it didn‘t seem to matter. As a principal and founding partner of a consulting firm that eventually grew to 500 employees, I interViewed. hired. and worked alongside hundreds of business-school graduates, and the impression I formed of the MBA. experience was that it involved taking two years our of your life and going deeply into debt, all for the sake of learning how to keep a straight face while using phrases like "out-of—rhe-boit thinking.“ "win- win situation,“ and "core competencies? When it came to picking teammates, I generally held out higher hopes for those individuals who had used their university years to learn shunt something other than business administration. After I left the consulting business, in a reversal of the usual order of things, I decided to check out the manage— ment literature. Partly, I wanted to “process” my own expe- rience and find out what I had missed in shipping business school. Partly, I had a lot of time on my hands. As I plowed through tomes on competititre strategy, business process re-engineering, and the like, not once did I catch myself thinking, Damn! 1]" 0224; I lied known rftir manta"! Insitead, I found myself thinking things I never thought I‘d think, :tnageinent theory came to life in 1899 with a I I simple question: "How many tons of pig iron bars can a worker load onto a rail car in the course of a working day?‘ The man behind this quesrion was Freder- ick Winslow Taylor, the author of T 11-9 A'ch?!“ JSn'em'gfic Malfdgmfflf and. by most accounts, the founding father of the whole management business. Taylor was forty-three years old and on contract with the Bethlehem Steel Company when the pig iron question hit him. Staring out over an industrial yard that coverEd several square miles of the Pennsylvania landscape, he watched as laborers loaded ninety-rwwpound bars onto rail cars. There were 80,000 tons‘ worth of iron bars. which were to be carted off as fast as possible to meet new demand sparked by the Spanish-American War. Taylor narrowed his eyes: there was waste there. he was certain. After hastily reviewing the books at company headquarters, he estimated that the men were currently loading iron at the rate of twelve and a half tons per man per day. Taylor stormed down to the yard with his assismnts (“college men,“ he called them) and rounded up a group of topwnotch lifters ("first-class men“), who in this case 11an pet-ted to be ten "large, powerful Hungarians.“ He offerEd to double the workers” wages in exchange for their partici- pation in an experiment. The Hungarians, eager to impress their apparent benefactor, put on a spirited show. Buffing up and down the rail car ramps, they loaded sixreen and a half tons in something under fourteen minutes. Taylor did the math: over a ten-hour day, it worked out to seventy-live tons per day per mart. Naturally, he had to allow time for bathroom breaks, lunch, and rest periods, so he adjusIEd the figure approximately 40 percent downward, Hence-forth, each laborer in the yard was assigned to load forty—seven and a half pig tons per day, with bonus pay for reaching the target and penalties for failing. When the Hungarians realized that they were being like, f’d’rm‘lier be madahgflez'degger.’ It was a dis- Ma"ng gym”, 1-: W. asked to quadruple their previous daily work- turbing experience. It thickened the mystery nut-bur. mus-r "randy. 9f load. they howled and refused to work. So around the question that had nagged me from The Cour—tier and the ' "' ' - ' “ - Heretic: Leibniz. SPir Taylor found a high Pncecl man, a lean Penn the start of my business career: Why does man- no” and the Fm, “and sylvania Dutchman whose intelligence he oom— agement education exist? 80 in the Modern World. pared to that of an ox. Lured by the promise of 13:13 FROM- JUN-lZ-ZUUE a 60 percent inCrcase in Wages. From $1.15 to a whopping $1.85 a day, Taylor’s high-priced man loaded forty-five and three-quarters tons over the course of a grueling day—close enough in Taylor’s mind: to count as the first victory for the methods of modern management. Taylor went on to tackle the noble science of shoveling and a host of other topics of concern to his industrial clients. He declared that his new and unusual approach to solving business problems amounted to a "complete mental revolu- tion.“ EVentually. at the urging of his disciples, he called his method “scientific management.” Thus was born the idea that management is a science—a body of knowledge col- lected and nurtured by experts according to noun-3L objec- tive. and universal standards. At the same moment was born the notion that man- agement is a distinct function beat handled by a distinct group of people-people characterized by a particular kind of education, way of speaking, and fashion sensibility. Tay— lor. who favored a manly kind of prose, expressed it best in passages like this: ... the science of handling pig iron is so great and amounts to so much that it is impossible for the man who is best suited to this type of work to understand the principles of this science, or even to worlt in accordance with these prin- ciples, without the aid of a man better educated than he is. 550-354-1303 T-lEE RUDE/BUT From a metaphysical perspective, one could say that Taylor was a “dualist”: there is brain, there is brawn and the me, he belieVEcL very rarely meet. Taylor went around the country repeating his pig iron story and other tales irom his days in the yard and these narratives formed something like a set of scriptures for a new and highly motivated cult of management experts. This vanguard ultimately vaulted into the citadel of the Establish- ment with the creation of business schools. In the spring of 1908, Taylor met With several Harvard professors, and later that year Harvard opened the first graduate school in the counu-y to offer a master's degree in business. It based its firstayear curriculum on Taylor’s scientific management. From 1909 to 1914-. Taylor visited Cambridge may win- ter to deliver a series of lecturesminspirational discourses marred only by the habit he‘d picked up on the shop floor of swearing at inappropriate moments. Yet even as Taylor’s idea of management began to catch on, a number of flaws in his approach were evident The first thing many observers noted about scientific manage- ment was that there was almost no science to it. The most significant variable in Taylor‘s pig iron calculaan was the 40 percent “adjustment” he made in extrapolating from a Fourteen-minute sample to a full workday. Why time a bunch of Hungarians down to the second if you‘re going to daub the results with such a great blob of fudge? When he 31 .—.__. _... nu..nnmmy—u—v—lfl_—-—+-M-finfi ...i., , . . F-Yll .-.r-"_‘.'wt'\.‘ nears/THEE?" :ww’TH-AK:- fl.WF—__.n.-n‘_WWr—.—A—. van—.wwpfia—e—tjr-v. v. , Y s . as H-anWF‘IWJ-I achm quJA-sxaw-_- Hag—a ‘.‘J r was grilled before Congress on the matter. Taylor casually mentioned that in other experiments these ‘adjusrments“ ranged from 20 percent to 225 percent. He defended these unsightly “wags” (wild—ass guesses. in M.B.A.-Spcalt) as the produCt of his “judgment” and "experience”—but.. of course. the whole point of Scientific management Was to eliminate the reliance on such inscrutable variables. One of the distinguishing features of anything that aspires to the name of science is the reproducibility of experimental results. Yet Taylor netrer published the data on which his pig iron or other conclusions were batted. When Carl Barth, one of his devotees, took over the work at Bethlehem Steel. he found Taylor’s. data to be unusable. Anether. even more fundamental feature of scienCc—hcrc I invoke the ghost of Karl Popper—is that it must produCe falsifiable propositions. insofar as "lhylor limited his cottCern to prosaic activities such as lifting bars onto rail cars, he did produce propositions that were falsifiable—and, indeed, were often falsified. But whenever he raised his sights to management in general, he seemed capable only of soaring platitudes. At the end of the day his “method” amounted to a set of exhortations: Think harder! Work smarter! Buy a stopwatch! The trouble with such claims isn‘t that they are all wrong. It’s that they are too true. When a congressman asked him if his methods were Open to misuse. Taylor replied... No. lfrnan- agcment has the right state of mind. his methods will always lead to the correct result. Unfortunately, Taylor was right about that. Tayloristn. like much of management theory to 82 THE ATLAN'RC MONTHLY T-lEE BED-3544303 RUDE/DDT come, is at its core a collecdon of quasi-religions dicta on the virtue ofbeing, good at what you do. ensconced in a pmtECliVE bubble of parables (otherwise known as case studies). Curiously, Taylor and his college men often appeared to float free ftom the kind ofaccountability that they demanded from everybody else. Others might have been asked. for example: Did Bethlehem’s profits increase as a result of their work? Taylor, however. rarely addressed the question head-on. With good reason. Bethlehem fired him in 1901 and threw out his various systems. Yet this evident vacuum of concrete results did not stop Taylor from repeating his parables as he preached the doctrine of efficiency to count- less audiences across the country. It the management literature these days. Taylorism is pre- sentcd, if at all, as a chapter of ancient history“ a weird epi— sode about an odd man with a. stopwatch who appeared on the scene sometime after Columbus discovered the New World. Over the past century Taylor‘s successors have devel- oped a powerful battery of statistical methods and analytical approaches to business problems. And yet the world of man- agement remains deeply I'Ihylorist in its foundations. At its best management theory is part of the democratic promise of America. It aims to replace the despotism of the old bosses with the rule of scientific law. it offers economic power to all who have the talent and energy to attain it. The managerial revoluan must be counted as part of the [neat widening of economic opportunity that has contributed so JUNE 2006 i - -- -. P--P.rr-.J—Ilr .i-n ‘P-fi. - .. . .H.( .. .-.....-...--n-.-.-ig..m-yu- a .A airway—:5 amps-4- -= : N... ., 3 , «A-{nT-a'brP-fuw‘iu . . [email protected] , __ awn). 4M— JUN-lZ-ZDDE 13:19 FROM- much to our prosperity. But, insofar as it pretends to a kind ot’esoteric certitude to which it is not entitled, management theory betrays the ideals on which it was founded. That Taylorism and its modern variants are often just a way of putting labor in its place need hardly be stated: from the Hungarians" point of view, the pig iron experiment was an infuriatineg obtuse way of demanding more work for less pay. That management theon represents a covert assault on capital, h0wevet‘, is equally true. (The Soviet five-year planning process took its inspiration directly from one of Taylor‘s more ardent followers, the engineer H. L. Gantt.) Much of management theory today is in fact the consecra- tion of class interest—not of the capitalist class, nor of labor, but of a new social group: the management class. i can confirm on the basis of personal experience that management consulting continues to worship at the shrine ofnumerology where'Taylor made his first offering of blobs of fudge. In many of my own projects, I found myself com— pelled to pacify recalcitrant data with entirely confected numbers. But I cede the place ofhonor to a certain colleague, BED-3544303 T-lEE RUM/DDT F-Ill The World of management theorists remains exempt from accountability. In my experience, for what it’s Worth, consultants monitored the progress of former clients about as diligently as they checked up on EX-spfluses (of which there were many). Unless there was some hope of renewing the relationship (or dating a sister company), it was Harm [a com baby. And why should they have cared? Consultants' recommendations hate the same semantic properties as cam- paign promises: it‘s almost freakish if they are remembered in the following year. In one episode, when I got involved in winding up the failed subsidiary of a large European bank, I noticed on the eapense ledger that a rival consulting firm had racked up $5 million in fees from the same subsidiary. “They were supposed to saVe the business.“ said one client manager, rolling his eyes. "Actually," he correCted himself, “they were supposed to keep the illusion going long enough for the boss to find a new job.“ Was my competitor held to account for failing to turn around the business and/ or violating the rock-solid ethical standards of consulting firms“? On the Just as most people are able to lead fulfilling lives without consulting Deepak Chopra, most managers can probably spate themselves an education in management theory. a grufi' and street-smart Belgian whose hobby was to amass hunting trophies. The huntsman achieved some celebrity for having invented a new mathematical technique dubbed "the Two-Handed Regression.” When the data On the cor— relation between two variables revealed only a shapeless cloud—even though we knew damn well there had to be a correlation—he would simply place a pair of meaty hands on the offending hits of the cloud and reveal the Straight line hiding from conventional mathematics. The thing that makes modern management theory so painful to read isn‘t usually the dearth of reliable empirical data. It‘s that maddening papal infallihility. Oh sure, there are a few pearls of insight, and one or We stories about heto-CEOs that can hook you like bad popcorn. But the rest is jusr inane. Those who looked for the true meaning of "business process re~engineering." the most overtly Tay- lorisr of recent management fads. were ultimately rewarded with such gems of vacuity as “BPR is taking a blank sheet of paper to your business!" and “BPR means rte-thinking everything, everything!” 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. If it’s reminiscent of the kind of toothless wisdom offered in self-help literature, that’s because management theory is mostly a suhgenre of self-help. Which isn't to say it’s completely uselesa But juSt as most people are able to lead fulfilling lives without con~ suiting Deepak Chopra, mos: managers can probably spare themselves an education in management theory. 84 THE ATLANTIC Mon‘rHtv contrary, it was ringing up even higher fees over in number wing of the same organization. And so was I. In fact, we kind of hired failing businesses: there was usually plenty of money to be made in propping them up before they finally went under. After Enron, true enough. Arthur Andersen sank. But what happened to such stalwarts as Mcansey, which generated millions in fees from Enron and supplied it with its CEO? The Enron story wasn‘t just about bad deeds or false accounts; it was about confus- ing sound business practices with faddish management ideas, celebrated with gusto by the leading lights of the manage— ment world all the way to the end of the party. firm I helped to found represented a complete revolution from the Taylor-ist practices of eonVentional organizations. Our firm wasn‘t about bureaucratic control and robotic elli- cienCy in the pursuit of profit. It was about love. We were very much of the moment. In the 19909, the gurus were unanimous in their conviction that the world was about to bring forth an entirely new mode of human cooperation, which they identified variously as the “informa- don-based organization," the “intellectual holding company:I the “learning organization," and the “perpetually creative organization." "Pol-P. Rip, shred, tear, mutilate, destroy that hierarchy," said fiber-guru Tom Peters, with characteristic understatement. The “end of bureaucracy“ is nigh, wrote Gifford Pinchot of “intrapreneuring” fame. According to all the experts, the enemy of the “new” organization was lurk- ing in every episode of Leave [Ho Beans-r. If you believed our chief of recruiting, the consulting JUNE 20% JUN-lZ-ZEIDE -'-1-|r-n--. HID-H1! T-guwu-q l—rnr tare-1v N's—.- -_ ..¢ g..,__.cwmw1.._y h.dl..FWFF.-'u -- -. -t- 4 13:20 FROM- Many good things can be said about the “new” organi- ration of the 19905. And who would want to take a stand against creativity, freedom, empowerment, and—yes, let‘s call it by its name—love“? One thing that cannor he said of the “new” organization, however, is that it is new. in 1983, a Harvard Business SchOol professor; Rosabeth Moss Kramer, heat the would-be revolutionaries of the nine»- ties to the punch when she argued that rigid "segrnentaiist" corporate bureaucracies were in the process of giving way to new “integrative” organizations, which were “informal” and “change-oriented?” But Kanter was just summarizing a view that had currency at least as early as 1951, when 'lbm Burns and C. M. Stalker published an influential hook criticizing the old, “mechanisdc” organization and championing the new, “organic” one. In language that eerily anticipated many a dot-com pro- spectus, they described how innovative firms benefited from “lateral” versus “vertical” information flows, the use of“ad hoe” centers of coordination, and the continuous redefinition of jobs. lIlse “flat” organization was first explicitly celebrated by James C. Worthy, in his study of Sears in the 194-05. and W. B. Given coined the term “bottom-up management” in 1949. And then there was Mary Parker Follett, who in the 19205 attacked “'depattmentalized” thinking, praised change-oriented and informal Structures, and—-Rosabeth Moss Kanter fans please take note-«advocated the ‘integrative” organization. If there was a defining moment in this long and strangely forgetlitl tradition of“humanist“ organization theory—a single case that beat explains the meaning of the infinitely repeating whole—-—it was arguably the work of Professor Elton Mayo of the Harvard Business School in the 1920s. Mayo, an Austra— lian, was everything Taylor was not: sophisticated, educated at the finest institutions, a little disrant and dilute, and perhaps too familiar with Freudian psychoanalysis for his own good. A researcher- trained Homer Hibarger had been testing theories about the effect of workplace illumination on worker pmdundvity. His work, not surprisingly, had been sponsored by a maker of electric lightbulhs. While a group of female workers assembled telephone relays and receiver coils. Homer turned the lights up. Productivity went up. Then he turned the lights down Ptoductivity Still went upl Puzzled, Homer tried a new series of interventions. First, he told the “girls” that they would be entitled to two five-minute breaks every day. Productivity went up. Neat it was six breaks a day. Productivity went up again. Then he let them leave an hour early every day. Up again. Free lunches and refreshments. Up! Then Homer cut the breaks, reinstated the old workday. and strapped the free food. But productivity barely dipped at all. Mayo, who was brought in to make sense of this, was exultant. His theory: the various interventions in workplace routine Were as nothing compared with the new interper- sonal dynamics generated by the experimental situation itself. “What actually happened,” he wrote, “Was that six individu- als became a team and the team gave itself wholeheartedly and spontaneously to cooperation They felt themselves to be participating, freely and without afterthought, and were happy in the knowledge that they Were working with— out coercion." The lessons Mayo drew from the experiment MANAGEMENT MYTH BED-3544303 T-lEE RUDE/DDT F-lll 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 nvo worlo ers who were deemed early man be "uncooperative" had been replaced with friendlier Women. Eyen more disturbing, these exceptionally cooperative individuals earned signifi— candy higher wages for their participation in the experiment. Later; in response to his critics. Mayo insisred that something so crude as financial incentives“ could not possibly explain the miracles he witnessed. That didn't malte his method any more "scientific.’9 Mayo’s work sheds light on the darlt side of the “human- ist” tradition in management theory. There is something undeniably creepy about a clipboard—bearing man hDVEr- ing around a group of factory women, flicking the lights on and offal-id dishing out candy bars. All of that humanity—was anyone in my old firm could have told you—was just a more subtle form of bureaucratic control. It was a way of harness- ing the workers” sense of identity and Wellwbeing to the goals of the organization, an effort to get each Worker to partici- pate in an ever more refined form of her own enslavement. So why is Mayo°s message constantly recycled and pre- sented as something radically new and liberating? Why does every new management theorist seem to want to outdo Chairman Mao in calling for perpetual havoc on the old @2006 Mercedes-EenZUSA LLB ‘ - ‘ y i J I PERFORMS UNDER. reassure, It's called Brake Assist. It monitors the speed'st’vmiehlthe dilve't ' I. steps on the praise. and if it senses panic hrsltihg, applies: ill, i y _ full-power braking'hoostautomaticallytflne “more marque“ ' feel more secure. At Mercedes-Benz, new engineering 'I Q Mercedes-Benz MBUSAmorn' JUN-lZ-ZEIDE l; i t, l" i. i 1. 1. bus-t...“ 13:23 FROM- order‘? Very simply. because all economic organizations involve at leaSt some degree of power, and power always pisses people off. That is the human condition. At the end of the day. it isn‘t a new world order that the management theorists are after; it’s the sensation of the revolutionary moment. They long for that exhilarating instant when they‘re fighting the good fight and imagining a future utOpia. What happens after the revolution—civil war and Stalinism being good bets—could not he of less concern. Between them. Taylor and Mayo carved up the world of management theory. According to my scientific sampling, you can save yourself from reading about 9'9 percent of all the management literature once you master this dialecric between rationalists and humanists. The Taylorite rationalist says: Be ethcient! The Mayo-ls: humanist replies: I-Iey. these are people we‘re talking about! And the debate goes on. Ultimately. it's just another installment in the ongoing saga of reason and passion. of the individual and the group. The tragedy. for l'l'lflfil.‘ who value their reading time, is that Rousseau and Shakespeare said it all much. much better. In the 5.200 years since the Sumerians first etched 533-334-1333 T-lEE RUDE/DDT F-fll ‘, . fl: .'_. _-_'._. y colleagues usually spoke fondly of tl'mii' years at busi- ness school. Most made great fiiends there. and quite a few found love. All were certain that their degree was u5eful in advancing their careers. But what does an MBA. do for you that a ductorate in philosophy can’t do better? The first point to note is that management education con- fers some benefits that have little to do with either manage tnent or education. Like an elaborate tattoo on an aboriginal warrior. an MBA. is a way of signaling just how deeply and irrevocably committed you are to a career in management. The degree also provides a tidy hoard of what sociologists call “social capital”—or what the rest of us. notwithstanding the invention of the PalmPilot. call a *Rolodex.” For companies. M.B.A. programs can be a way to our- source recruiting. Marvin Bower. McKinsey’s managing direc— tor from 1950 to 1967, was the that to understand this fact. and he built a legendary company around it. Through careful cultivation of the deans and judicious philanthropy, Bower secured a quasi—monopoly on Baker Scholars (die handfisl of top students at the Harvard Business School). Bower was not so foolish as to imagine that these scholars were of intereSt Rpusseau and Shakespeare are every bit as relevant to the dilemmas faced by managers in their quest for productivity as any of the management literature. their pittograms on clay tablem. come to think of it. human beings have produced an astonishing wealth of creative expression on the topics of reason. passion. and living with other people. In books. poems, plays, music. works of art1 and plain old graffiti. they have explored what it means to struggle against adversity. to apply their extraordinary fac- ulty of reason to the world. and to confront the naked truth about what motivates their fellow human animals. These works are every bit as relevant to the dilemmas faced by managers in their quest to make the world a more produc— tive place as any of the management literature. In the case of my old firm. incidentally. the endgame was civil war. Those who talked loudest about the ideals of the ‘new" organization. as it turned out. had the leasr love in their hearts. By a strange twist of fate. I owe the long- evity of my own consulting career to this circumsrance. When I first announced my intention to withdraw from the firm in order to pursue my vocation as an unpublishable philosopher at large. my partners let me know that they would gladly regard my investment in the firm as a selfless contrihuriOn to their financial well-being, By the time I man- aged to extricate myself from their loving embrace. nearly three years later. the partnership had for other reasons descended into the kind of Hohbesian war of all against all from which only the lawyers emerge smiling. The firm was temporarily rescued by a dot-com company. but within a year both the savior and the saved collapsed in a richly deserved bankruptcy. Of course. your experience in a “new” organization may be different. 85 THE ATLANTIC MDNTHL‘!’ on account of the Education they received. Rather. they were valuable because they were among the smartest. most ambi- tious. and best-conneCted individuals of their generation. Harvard had done him the favor of scouring the landscape. attracting and screening vaSt numbers of applicants. fist-thet- testing those who matriculated. and then sewing up the best and the brightest for Bower’s delectatiort. Of course. management education does involve the trans- fer of waighty bodies of technical knowledge that have aocu~ mulated since Taylor first put the management—industrial complex in motion—accounting. Statistical analysis. decision modeling. and so forthnand these can prove quite useful to students. depending on their career trajectories. But the "value-add" here is far more limited than Mom or Dad tend to thinlt. In most managerial jobs. almost everything you need to know to succeed musr be learned on the job; for the rest. you should consider whether it might have been acquired with less time and at less expense, The best business schools will tell yOu that manage— ment education is mainly about building skills-wont: of the most important of which is the ability to think (or what the M.B.A.s call “problem solving”). But do they manage to teach such skills? I once sat through a presentation in Which a consultant. a Harvard MBJL. showed a client. the manager of a large financial institution in a developing country. how the client company‘s “compentive advantage” could be analyzed in terms of “the five forces? He even used a graphic borrowed directly from guru-of-the-tnoment Michael Porter's beat- JUN£ 2Wfi JUN-lZ-ZEIDB 13:21 FROM- selling work on “competitive strategy." ' Not for the first time. I was embarrassed to call myselfa consultant. As it happens. the client. too. had a Harvard MBA. “No.” he said. shaking his head with feigned chagrin. “'lhere are only three forces in this case. And two of them are in the Finance Ministry." What they don‘t seem to teach you in business school is that “the five forces“ and “the seven Cs" and every Other generic framework for problem solving are heuristics: they can lead you to solutions, but they cannot malte you think. Case studies may provide an effective way to think business problems through. but the point is rather lost if students come away imagining that you can go home once you've put all of yom' eggs into a two—by—two growrh-share matrix. Next to analysis, communication skills must count among the most important for future masters of the univm'se. To their credit. business schools do sness these skills. and force their stu- dents to engage in makevbelieve presentations to one another. On the whole. however. management educaan has been less than a boon for those who value lice and meaningful speech. MBAs have taken obfiiscatory jargon-otherwise known as bullshit-do a level that would have made even the Scholastics blanch. As students of philosophy ltnow. Descartes dismantled the edifice of medieval thought by writing clearly and showing that knowledge, by its nature. is intelligible. not obscure. Beyond building skills, business training must be about ' values. As I write this. 1 know that my MBA. friends an: squirming in their seats. 'lhey‘ve all been forced to sit through an "ethics" course, in which they learned to toss around yet more fancy phrases like “the categorical imperative“ and dis- cuss borderline criminal behavior. such as what’s a legitimate hotel hill and what's just plain stealing fi'om the expense account. how to tell the difference between a pat on the shoulder and sexual harassment. and so on. But, as anyone who has studied Aristotle will know. “values” aren't some- thing you bump into fi'om time to time during the course of a business career. All of business is about values. all of the time. Notwithstanding the ostentatious use of stopwatches. Taylor‘s pig iron case was not a dctmjtm'an of some aspect of physical reality-how many tons can a worker lift? It was a prom}:— oim-Hhow many tons should a worker lift‘l| The real issue at stake in Mayo’s telephone factory was not florid—how can we best establish a sense of teamwork? It was moral—how moth Of a worker's sense of identity and wellwbeing does a business have a right to harness for its purposes? The recognition that management theory is a sadly neglected subdiscipline of philosophy began with an expe— rience of déj‘a vu. As I plowed through my shelfload of had management books. I beheld a discipline that consists mainly of unverifiahlc propositions and cryptic anecdotes. is rarely if ever held accountable. and produces an inordim nate 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. 550-354-1303 T-lEE FEET/DDT The idea that philosophy is an inherently academic pur- suit is a recent and diabolical invention. Epicunis, Descartes. Spinoza. Locke. Hume. Nietzsche. and mos: of the other gteat philosophers of history were not professors of philosophy. If any were to come to life and witness what'has happened to their discipline. 1 think they'd run for the hills. Still. yen go to war with the philosophers you have, as they say. not the ones in the hills. And since I’m counting on them to seize the com- manding insights of the global emnomy. let me indulge in seine management advice for today’s academic philosophers: - Expand the domain of your analysis! Why so many studies of Wittgenstein and none of Taylor. the man who invented the social class that now rules the world? - Hire people with greater diversity of experience! And no. that does not mean taking someone from the Univer- sity of Hawaii. You an: building a network—a team of like- minded individuals who together can change the world. - Remember the three Cs: Communication. Commu— nication, Communication! Philosophers (other than those who have succumbed to the Heidegger-inn virus) start with a substantial competitive advantage over the PowerPoint crowd. But that’s no reason to slaclt. off. Remember Plato: it's all about dialogue! With this simple threevpoint program (or was it four?) philosophers will soon reclaim thEir rightful place as the Educators of management. 01" course. I will he charging for implementation. a @2090 Mascots-Hen: can. ut: ANTI-AGING FORMULA FROM MERCEDES-BENZ. At Mercedes-Benz, even the paint is a feat of engineering. We integrated ceramic cane-particles into the molecular structure or me pe-ot's cloarcoat. The result Is a higher-gloss paint finish that is more resistant to scratches. At Mercedes-Benz. beauty is engineered to last. @ Mercedes-Benz MBUSAcom F-lll ...
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cw453545_cw391140_The Management Myth - JUN-lZ-ZEIDB 13...

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