Archive

Posts Tagged ‘management’

Durable, Resilient, Adaptable

I really love this elegantly written paragraph by Stewart Brand:

The combination of fast and slow components makes the system resilient, along with the way the differently paced parts affect each other. Fast learns, slow remembers. Fast proposes, slow disposes. Fast is discontinuous, slow is continuous. Fast and small instructs slow and big by accrued innovation and occasional revolution. Slow and big controls small and fast by constraint and constancy. Fast gets all our attention, slow has all the power. All durable dynamic systems have this sort of structure; it is what makes them adaptable and robust.  – Clock Of The Long Now – Stewart Brand

If you think about organizations, the people at the bottom of the hierarchy should be the fast components that instruct and inform the slow controlling components at the top, no? However, if those at the top allow, or turn a blind eye to bureaucratic processes and procedures that impede quickness at the bottom, they’re screwing up big time, no? Requiring the builders dwelling in the cellar to jump through multiple, multi-layer review/approval cycles to purchase a 5 dollar part, or go to a conference, or get a custom, but simple, cable built, or add some useful code to a widely used library, can be considered an impediment, no?

Ninety percent of what we call ‘management’ consists of making it difficult for people to get get things done – Peter Drucker

If those at the top of a borg solely concern themselves with “the numbers“, bonuses for themselves, and rubbing elbows with other fellow biggies while the borg’s so-called support groups and middle managers stifle the builders with ever more red tape, then fuggedaboud having any fast components in the house. And if Mr. Brand is right in that resilient, durable, adaptable, learning systems require a mix of fast and slow components, then those at the top deserve the results they get from the unresilient, undurable, unadaptable, and unlearning borg they preside over.

DRA

No More JAMB On My Toast

Amazon just sent me a recommendation for this book on the management of complexity:

Six Rules

Since four out of five reviewers gave it 5 stars, I scrolled down to peruse the reviews. As soon as I read the following JAMB review, I knew exactly what the reviewer was talking about. I can’t even begin to count how many boring, disappointing management books I’ve read over the years that fit the description. What I do know is that I don’t want to spend any more money or time on gobbledygook like this.

Jamb

 

Categories: management Tags: , ,

The Ridiculously Obvious

March 15, 2014 8 comments

Over the years, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard smug, self-important consultants and coaches spout things like: “If your org doesn’t do what I say and/or you don’t get what you want, you should just leave“. Of course, like much of what they say is, it is literally true – you can indeed leave. However, here’s an interesting counterpoint:

“To say people have choice when they are in no position to make one is disingenuous.” – John Seddon

Consultants and coaches love to spout platitudes and self-evident truths couched in the fancy “new” language of the latest fad. Amazingly, stating the ridiculously obvious is what they get paid the big bux to do. To these high-horse riders, life for others is always much simpler than it really is. As outsiders looking in, they have what Nassim Taleb calls: “no skin in the game“. The only thing they have to concern themselves about is sucking up enough to the executives who run the show so that they can get hired back after their $2k/day gig is done. And saying the right things, no matter how impractical they are to implement, is the way they do it.

The Obvious

Space Flights To Alpha Centauri

February 7, 2014 1 comment

A disgusted reader recently sent me this link regarding yet another textbook example of corpo scam artistry:Bwin.party proposes new bonus plan for top execs as share price languishes. Since the board of directors at a borg is usually a hand picked crew of yes-men by the “senior leadership team“, the article headline should probably read: “Bwin.party executives propose new bonus plan for themselves as share price languishes.

When pay for performance under the current set of “KPI“s (Key Performance Indicators) stops the money from flowing into the pockets of the head shed aristocracy, the answer is always the same no-brainer. Simply get your board-of-derelicts to lower the bar and champion a new set of bogus KPIs to the powerless and fragmented shareholdership. Ka-ching!

With the old bonus benchmarks now akin to launching manned space flights to Alpha Centauri, Bwin.party is proposing a new scheme that more accurately reflects the company’s lowered expectations. Under this plan, CEO Norbert Teufelberger would pick up a maximum bonus of 550% of his annual base salary of £500k, while chief financial officer Martin Weigold would receive 435% of his £446k annual pay packet. – Steven Stradbrooke

When borgs perform brazen acts of inequity like Bwin.party (“party” is literally true for the execs), the rationalizations they spew to the public are mostly hilarious repetitions recycled from the past:

  • Bwin.party says the paydays are necessary because the US market is beginning to open up, and the hordes of US gaming companies looking to move online lack senior management with online know-how.
  • The potential for US companies to poach senior execs from experienced European companies represents “the single biggest threat to Bwin.party’s ability to retain its senior management.”
  • Bwin.party also suggests its top execs deserve danger pay due to “aggressive enforcement of national laws against senior executives within the industry.”

Danger pay? Bwaaahahhah and WTF! That excuse certainly wasn’t dug up from the past. Ya gotta give the clever board-of-derelicts bonus points for such creative genius: “If ya break the law and damage the company, don’t worry. We’ve got ya covered.” Why not go one step further and give Bwin.party’s employees hazard pay for having to work under such a cast of potentially criminal bozeltines?

To determine if executive compensation has any correlation to company performance, BD00 performed 30 seconds worth of intensive research and plotted the results of his arduous effort for your viewing pleasure:

Exec Comp

So, whadya think? Is executive compensation tied to performance over the long haul? Regardless of how you answer the question, ya gotta love capitalism because after all is said, it’s the worst “ism” except for all the other “isms“.

Huge Cajones

January 9, 2014 2 comments

According to “No Managers Required: How Zappos Ditched The Old Corporate Structure For Something New”,  by the end of 2014, Zappos.com will have dismantled their corpo pyramid. Under the stewardship of maverick CEO Tony Hsieh, the 1500 employee company will be transitioned into a “holacracy” of 400, self-governing circles.

Hierarchy Holarchy

Talk about having huge cajones. Just think of the disruptive risk to business performance of making such a daring structural/operational change to a billion dollar enterprise.

Although I look forward to watching how the transformation plays out, I’m a bit skeptical that Mr. Hsieh can pull it off. After visiting the site of the “consultant” that will be advising the company during the transition (holacracy.org) and browsing through the ungodly long, complicated, formal Holacracy Constitution, the first thought that came to mind was “D’oh!“.

Twitter friend and guest blogger @serialmom sums up the situation with this insightful tweet:

SM Tweet

Manage-ification By Growth

December 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Somewhere on the road from small startup sensation to huge institutional borgdom, the oft-repeated process of “manage-ification by growth” fires up and kicks into high gear. It’s inevitable, or is it?

Managification

The Creation Of A New Class

December 7, 2013 Leave a comment

In the context of complex decisions with uncertain outcomes and no obvious right answer, the managerial mind inevitably longs for some handrails to grasp amid the smoke and flames. Strategic planning offers that consolation— or illusion— of a sure path to the future – Stewart, Matthew

In “The Management Myth“, Matthew Stewart researches how the business of “Business Strategy” got started and how it evolved over the decades. He (dis)credits Igor Ansoff with starting the phantom fad founded on “nonfalsifiable tautologies, generic reminders, and pompous maxims“. Mr. Stewart also credits mainstream strategy guru Michael Porter with growing the beast in the nineties into the mega-business it is today.

Perhaps the most interesting outcome from the rise of the business of strategy was the stratification of “management” into two classes, top management and middle management:

Top management takes responsibility for deciding on the mix of businesses a corporation ought to pursue and for judging the performance of business unit managers. Middle management is said to be responsible for the execution of activities within specific lines of business. This division within management has created a new and problematic social reality. In earlier times, there was one management and there was one labor, and telling the two apart was a fairly simple matter of looking at the clothes they wore. The rise of middle management has resulted in the emergence of a large group of individuals who technically count as managers and sartorially look the part but nonetheless live very far down the elevator shaft from the people who actually have power  – Stewart, Matthew

I always wondered how the delineation between “top” and “middle” management came about. Now I know why.

top and middle

%d bloggers like this: