07 June 2006

Management by...

There are many management styles.

Management by Objectives (MBO)
"Management by objective works - if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time you don't." Peter Drucker
Isn't that ironic? Drucker promoted MBO back in 1954, but he believed that 90% of the time no enterprise knows the objectives. However, he suggested that "the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer." Isn't that the objective? The true problem lies in the ability to reach alignment within the internal organization. Alignment is the ability to speak common language. If A speaks X, and B speaks Y, but the VMV (Vision, Mission, Value) is Z, then even with clear and specific objective, nobody is going to get anything done.
Management by Walking Around (MBWA)
Since the introduction of e-communication such as email and instant messaging, how much time does one spend on travelling along the electronic highway? 50%? 75%? Or more? Almost everyone has forgotten the value of interpersonal communication. People even get married in the cyber-world.
Although e-communication helps save time in physical communications, nobody really saves anytime in absolute terms as time spent on clearing junk increases. This implies that e-communication does not bring effectiveness but only efficiency.
Fact is, spontaneous, hands-on contact is more effective than e-communication. Everybody acknowledges this simple fact, but almost nobody is able to practice it.
MBWA usually goes together with an open-door management policy, which is quite rare nowadays. Alas!
Management by Fear (MBF)
"People always fear change. People feared electricity when it was invented, didn't they? People feared coal, they feared gas-powered engines... There will always be ignorance, and ignorance leads to fear. But with time, people will come to accept their silicon masters." Bill Gates
It is simply not fair to label anyone as a management-by-fear manager. There really is nothing wrong with MBF as long as the receiver accepts the approach. After all, nobody can control how the ball is being thrown, but everybody can decide how to react. This is an attitude issue. Look below the surface, as the truth usually hides from it. Listen not to the tone but what is not said. Eliminate anything irrelevant but absorb everything relevant. Drucker said "the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said." Of course, listening is more effective than hearing.
Let's be the "fish" in the Zhuang Zi's world.
One day Zhuang Zi and Hui Zi are strolling on Bridge Hao.
Zhuang says, "Look how happy the fish are just swimming around in the river."
Hui challenges, "How do you know they are happy? You are not a fish."
Zhuang replies, "And you are not me. How do you know I don't know the fish are happy."
Hui continues, "Of course I'm not you, and I don't know what you think; but I do know that you are not a fish, and so you couldn't possibly know the fish are happy."
Zhuang concludes, "Look, when you asked me how I knew the fish were happy, you already knew that I knew the fish were happy. I knew it from my feelings standing on this bridge."

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