I continue to monitor comments and pieces of information regarding the BP Oil Catastrophe and the application of command and control management. This is a system condition not unique to just BP. Too many times do organizations rely on the structure and not the expertise of the people in the organization. There are so many elements that go into this command and control thinking and my 95 partners have done a terrific job of identifying them.
Command and Control Thinking (from 95 Consulting):
- Top-down hierarchy – Don’t do anything unless management orders you to do something through a plan or dictate.
- Functional Work Design – Work separated into specialties. Complete with procedures that are to be followed unless approval is gained.
- Contracts – Contracts that dictate the work to be done for customers or by vendors. Doing what is right is trumped by doing what is in a contract.
- Decisions Separated from the Work – Management by reports, budgets and assumptions with little or no knowledge or context of the work.
- Measurement – Typically from budgets, targets, outputs, activity and standards.
- Management Style – Control people through budgets and people need to be managed.
- Extrinsic Motivation – Control people through the use of “carrots and sticks.”
Workers in these types of organizations are micro-managed. They have a complete hierarchy to navigate if they want to raise a red flag. Even if they do successfully chart a course through this hierarchy, they stand to receive consternation for being a troublemaker.
Managers make decisions and worker’s work this is the way of the command and control organization. If worker input is needed, management will “let you know.” The worker is there to do their job and not make waves.
I have heard on more than one occasion an executive say, “I need someone that can manage to a budget.” And I think, “What they need is someone that knows how to manage a system.” Any moron can manage a budget, it takes talent to build a system to create value for customers.
As much as we have learned over the years to find ways to kill each other and make huge leaps in technology . . . we have done little to change the way we think about the design and management of work. The old way is still the old way, it is like some kind of management dark ages. Power still overcomes knowledge when it comes to raising the red flag.
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Make the new decade a profitable and rewarding one, start a new path here. Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about how to get started at [email protected]. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.