Keep Decision-Making with the Work

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
Command and control management thinking is flawed in many ways.  The separation of decision-making from the work is one of these flaws and because of this separation decision-making defines management’s role.  Scientific management theory influences this separation because work is defined in "functional specialisms" and control (decision-making) is maintained by financial budgets, targets and standards.  The focus of management becomes output with the assumption that improving the numbers is equivalent to improving performance . . . it is not.  This way of thinking only assures sub-optimization, causes waste and prevents managers from understanding an organization’s performance.  In a management paradox, command and control thinkers act in ways that only make things worse.

A better "systems thinking" way is to work on how well systems and processes delivered what matters to customers and engaged capability data (measures on how well an organization serves what matters to customers).  This would give an organization the ability to learn how to improve and make better decisions.  Putting these same measures in the hands of the workers would allow them to make decisions . . . learning and continually improving the service offered to customers.

Command and control thinking will meet its demise as systems thinking is far more efficient and economical.  If it isn’t abandoned by the U.S. soon, I have no doubt that service industry will fall like manufacturing has . . . a sub-optimized organization can not compete with a systems thinking one.  Leadership innovation can only be achieved by making this transformation.

Comments for Keep Decision-Making with the Work

Monday, March 9, 2009 by FAYE:
Tripp – When I was in the working world, I thought this way, but didn’t really know there were 2 different systems. I could never understand why the staff would never come to the peons to find out what was really going on. We had lots of good ideas, but nobody was interested in hearing them. They were more interested in furthering their careers.

Leave a comment