On Management

When it comes to management, I always refer to Paul Graham’s essay, “Revenge of the Nerds.” It explains exactly how management thinks and perpetuates why business schools continue to pump out dime-a-dozen MBAs that believe they could manage a product or people without knowing either.

The synopsis of a manager can be seen in Graham’s depiction of the pointy-haired manager:

The pointy-haired boss miraculously combines two qualities that are common by themselves, but rarely seen together: (a) he knows nothing whatsoever about technology, and (b) he has very strong opinions about it.

As an engineer, this is OFTEN seen by technical people in the field. There are always finance types, or even MBA graduates that lead a technical corporation. In my opinion, there just something wrong about this scenario. Often, these management types do not make it a point to learn the products, and learn the technologies. In this case, I believe that there are few managers that can lead a company alone on raw talent.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. – Peter Drucker

What I never understood is that back in the days of the Greeks and Romans, the successful leaders were the ones that rose through the ranks. Socrates and Plato were all disciples at one point in their lives until they sought after the truth and had their own students. In the same regard, the wisest and most knowledgeable should be the leaders and managers. Why business schools create a generic position is beyond me.

So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work. – Peter Drucker

This leads to why there is ALWAYS top-heavy large corporations. Corporations have managers that do not understand the jobs of their employees, work on useless Powerpoint presentations, and never listen to their workers when it comes to creating a more efficient approach to working out a problem. Usually, the excuse is that it is too much work to change a little bit to help the corporation. Interestingly enough, many have viewed that those that don’t wish to do any real work get promoted into management positions.

The first duty of a leader is to make himself be loved without courting love. To be loved without ‘playing up’ to anyone – even to himself.- Andre Malraux

To that I say, “Feh.” Leaders are those that are willing to change, and listen to the ones they lead. There is always room for better improvements. You do not delegate your work, but point your workers in the right direction and let them work their magic. If they do not understand how to do it, you must show them, being that you should be the most knowledgeable.

A good manager is best when people barely know that he exists. Not so good when people obey and acclaim him. Worse when they despise him. – Lao Tzu

Take heed. Managers are a dime-a-dozen. When the world wakes up, management will be the first to be on the chopping block.