Management: The Unnecessary Evil


Thanks for the post on “Life without Management,” and glad to hear that you took a little family time. We have been squeezing in some weekend trips as summer winds down and those have kept us pretty busy as well. I have been thinking a lot about your post and I agree that accountability is a big part of the equation here, but I have decided that I am going to hold fast to my original argument. Management is an unnecessary evil.

In thinking about this issue, I keep going back to something Clay Shirky said (disclaimer: I have a huge professional crush on Clay Shirky).
“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”
Management does not want accountability because then it loses the power advantage, and the hard truth of this whole thing is that we still have a philosophy of management based on power.

There is a great deal of talk about the new leadership and leadership 2.0 and yadda, yadda, yadda…you and I both know there are some of those folks out there and some of those organizations out there, but I think they are the exception to the rule. You do not have the recent financial debacle with real leadership and individual accountability…you also do not have Enrons or the recent outcomes we have seen from BP and Toyota. Hell, with real leadership and individual accountability Congress would get a little work done.

Academics and consultants talk about it like it is the reality but it is not. The business world is dominated by managers who believe in power over, rather than power with. There is no room or reward for personal accountability until management goes away.

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