The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

The obvious

As management theories evolved, a variety of hypes appeared. What worked in one system suddenly was transposed to other systems as the holy grail of management.

And when the experiment didn’t work, either the theory was called to be wrong or the implementation was assumed to be faulty. The easiest excuse: people don’t like change.

Sometimes the answer is much simpler: planning differs from doing.

The problem with planning is, that it can be make-believe. It can lead to the idea that a manager’s ability lies in making the plan happen as close as possible to the plan. This then builds the idea that an effective manager is a manager who leads an orchestra like a maestro. And as we are used to seeing orchestras perform beautifully, that’s the art managers start to expect from themselves. Management theories then come in handy to confirm that that’s how things should be.

The doing is different, things continuously don’t work out as planned.

In contrast to the maestro performing in a concert, the manager is constantly interrupted, he is moving from one meeting to the other or needs to coordinate the unplanned events. Describing this in the early 70’s Henry Mintzberg pointed at the reality of the work. To him, it was such an obvious pattern that he doesn’t take credit for more than for writing it down.

And yet assuming that doing the work is performing with an orchestra seems to be the dominant aspiration. The rehearsing orchestras and musicians do is left aside as if in management things were different. As if it was sufficient to have learned and read how things should be done.

It’s time to slow down. It’s ok to practice. It’s the work.


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