Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Management: The Bozo Definition

from peopleware, Tom DeMarco:

Management is a complex enough thing to defy simple definition, but that nuance was lost on one senior manager we encountered at a professional society meeting in London. He summed up his entire view of the subject with this statement: "Management is kicking ass."

This equates to the view that managers provide all the thinking and the people underneath them just carry out their bidding. Again, that might be workable for cheeseburger production, but not for any effort for which people do the work with their heads rather than their hands. Everyone in such an environment has got to have the brain in gear. You may be able to kick people to make them active, but not to make them creative, inventive, and thoughtful.

Even if kicking people in the backside did boost their short-term productivity, it might not be useful in the long run: There is nothing more discouraging to any worker than the sense that his own motivation is inadequate and has to be "supplemented" by that of the boss.

The saddest thing about this management approach is that it's almost always superfluous. You seldom need to take Draconian measures to keep your people working; most of them love their work. You may even have to take steps sometimes to make them work less, and thus get more meaningful work done.