What elements do every command and control manager believe are core to their management paradigm?

  • The amount of work to be done.
  • The number of people to do the work.
  • The amount of time it takes to do the work.

The command and control manager sees their problem as a resource issue.  They are focused on SLAs . . . # of things done over time, talk time, volumes of incoming work, etc. This is a manufacturing view of service work, complete with inspection.  This thought process brings forward the need for scripts, procedures, targets, standards, compliance, etc. to “manage” the organization.

In manufacturing, we used to reference the hidden factory.  The visual factory was the one that built the good stuff (value) and the “hidden” factory was all the scrap and waste.  Well, in service there is a hidden management factory that is separate from the work where managers gather to make decisions about the work that they don’t understand.  This factory is supported by technology to help “dumb down” front-line workers.

Command and control thinkers are focused on cost reduction.  Scientific management theory promises economies of scale, but in a management paradox this thinking drives costs up and service down.

There are five fundamental thinking problems that John Seddon outlines for us in Systems Thinking in the Public Sector.

  1. Treating all demand as though it is work.
  2. No accounting for failure demand.
  3. The foolishness of managing activity.
  4. A service systems that prevents absorbing variety.
  5. Negative Assumptions about people.

For more on these see my blog 5 Fundamental Thinking Problems in Service Businesses (link).

Systems thinking is about changing from command and control to systems thinking.  This shift in thinking can achieve corporate cost reductions and business improvement beyond traditional organizational change management programs.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  He is focused on exposing the problems of command and control management and the termination of bad service through application of new thinking . . . systems thinking.  Download free Understanding Your Organization as a System and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt.