[Link] The Vanishing Middle Manager, McKinsey

A perspective worth considering: what should middle management actually be doing?

Think of the role of the direct manager in performance management. Ultimately, it’s not about the system. It’s not about the form. It’s about whether your direct manager helps you understand the value of your work and how it fits into a broader strategy. It’s about coaching. It’s about real-time feedback delivered by a human. I think we’ve undervalued those elements, tried to systematize them away with data, with systems, with tools. Meanwhile, workers are asking for better leaders, better apprenticeships, better coaching. When we try to disintermediate the role of a good midlevel leader, I think we do this at our peril.

The miracle of Harlesden [article]

Sometimes, the best thing management can do is to get out of the way, writes Francis Gouillart in his blog on co-creation. Invited to assist in helping the local UK unemployment office in Harlesden engage with the ethnic communities in the region, Gouillart explains that overcoming his initial urge to jump on a plane back to Boston was worthwhile. An interesting read, if you are in any sort of leadership roles.

Management exists to minimize the problems created by its own hiring mistakes [Article]

Thus says Scott Adams, referring to a video game company called Valve who have 400 employees, & no management structure, & his own start-up (about which he’s sharing very little, at least yet).  He reckons that the

need for management will shrink- at least for some type of businesses – because entrepreneurs have the tools to make fewer hiring mistakes in the first place 

Bull crap special: Management/ Success/ Leadership [Article]

There’s a reason that Scott Adams’ Dilbert cartoons resonate with most people working in industry (or even otherwise). Scott’s latest missive on his blog calls the bluff on “charisma”, “success”, “leadership”, & “management”. In true Scott Adams’ style, he backs it up with his reasoning.

Consider the thousands of different books on management/success/leadership. If any of this were real science, all managers would learn the same half-dozen secrets to success and go on to great things. The reality of the business world is more like infinite monkeys with typewriters. Sooner or later a monkey with an ass pimple will type something that makes sense and every management expert in the world will attribute the success to the ass pimple.

Doing a job [article]

Admiral Hyman Rickover, retired, of the US Navy, had this to say to the graduating class of the Columbia University School of Engineering on Nov 5, 1981. In Doing a Job, he points out that “There is concern today over the apparent decline in U.S. productivity. In searching for its causes we should not overlook the impact of the many professional administrators who run large corporations. Though trained in management at our leading universities, they are often unskilled in the technical aspects of the company. As a result they manage largely in the terms they learned at school. Technical, operational, and production issues are quickly reduced to issues of numbers and dollars, upon which these administrators apply their management techniques. Although in this way they may achieve financial benefits, an overemphasis on short-term profits often ignores broader issues such as efficient production or planning for the future. How can they act otherwise, when they have knowledge only of management theories learned in school?.