Micro-management

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oesn't work ... never has ... and never will. Why?



Every large scale enterprize of man sets itself up as a hierarchical structure with a few executives, a greater number of managers and any number of workers. This is necessitated by the nature of work and cannot be bypassed by anyone in any endeavor requiring the "many hands that make light work".

It revolves around the capacity of the human mind to make decisions. I know from experience that on a real hard day, a man can make about 3000-4000 decisions in a 14 hour day and he's just about wasted. I don't mean BIG decisions ... just trivial ones.

Typcally, you have a one sentence problem given to you by a worker. You make a sentence in your mind (or maybe not). Then, you make a one sentence decision directed to the worker. And on to the next problem awaiting a decision.

So, given that one sentence takes about 3 seconds and 2 sentences for a decision to be arrived at ... times 4000 equals ... 24,000 seconds ... = ~ 7 hours. Add in coffee, breathing fire, eating, a few trips to the can ... you're wasted.

The same thing applies to every worker involved ... top to bottom. There are definite limits to what you can do.

Now if you focus on the small, you lose sight of the large & vice versa, i.e. if you must unload a truck of many small packages and must count them as well ... focus on the work itself and you lose count ... focus on the count and you drop the package on your foot & break product & lose much time and the other workers (who aren't counting) accuse you of being a slacker ('cause you've got to slow down to count, eh?).

Somebody's gotta' be the chief and most have to be indians because the big & small problems scale just like craters on the moon. The hierarchy is forced on man by the nature of work. It isn't an invention. It's a clear necessity.

Now to the crux of the matter.

No one knows everything. Some people think they know best in a given situation (the executive). And others get it right 90% of the time (the immediate manager). Some know what to do here and now but don't know why (the general workers).

So the exec tells the workers what to do directly thinking he knows best. The manager is insulted and degraded. The workers have absolutely no respect for the "new asshole". Thus, the enterprize collapses.

Because,

The executive was right/wrong ... it doesn't matter. If he has the time to direct the workers ... why hire the manager? If the manager gets it right 90% of the time ... why not eat the other 10%? After all, can you expect a better overall performance from an executive doing management "partime"? And any group of workers will lose respect for "the suits" if they obviously haven't got their shit together.

The hierarchy forms up as a function of the number of decisions to be made. Who takes what place in the hierarchy is best determined by performance. Since no one knows everything or is perfect, the hierarchy just eats the errors and factors that into the cost of the final product.

Last word on the "new guy".

Every time there is a shakeup in the hierarchy, the new guy tries to change something. This is "super-micro-management". The new guy asserts his appearance in the hierarchy by "discovering" something which is being done wrong ... "It must be changed". Now, everyone who has been in the hierarchy has already seen this and mutters "Here we go again ... we did the same thing last year and it didn't work then either". Now after a few months of the new thing, the hierarchy goes back to the way it was done before the "new guy" arrived. Then they wait for the next new guy to screw it up again.

The reason for this is simple. If everyone has tried to do his best, the method of operation is fixed by ... "all things being considered" ... and this force of nature is not to be undone by the inadequate knowledge of the new guy.

The only time that a new method works is when the "all things being considered" changes. But that factor consists ONLY of factual, physical data or eternal truths about human conduct.

The new guy always thinks this means simply,

... his arrival.


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