Hard Work and Efficient Management = Success? LO28300

From: Fred Nickols (nickols@att.net)
Date: 04/24/02

Responding to DP Dash in LO28282 --

First, DP cites At:

>At de Lange <amdelange@gold.up.ac.za> wrote:
> > ... he kept on saying "by persevering with hard work and
> > efficient management we will solve that problem". This
> > happened not only once, but several times.

Then DP goes on to observe:

>It seems, the manager is not using the insight of Einstein we discussed
>some time back: You cannot solve a problem at the same level of thinking
>that created it.

Are you saying, DP, that the problem, whatever it is, was created by the
notion of persevering with hard work and efficient management or just that
that particular notion is part of whatever level of thinking has resulted
in the problem(s) at hand (whatever they might be)?

>At, in the Seminar, did the manager present any interpretation or analysis
>of the current situation of their organisation? Did he isolate 'hard work'
>and 'efficient management' as the two important elements missing in their
>organisation? Or, was he trying to shift resopnsibility to or even put
>blame on his colleagues?

Hmm. We probably have similar experiences here. I've seen the call for
perseverance, hard work and efficient management issued a time or two and
it's always struck me that both the issues you mention above are
operating. First, the higher ups have concluded that there isn't enough
hard work, perseverance and efficient management and, at the same time,
they have been inclined to blame those around them for the absence of
these qualities.

In a more charitable vein, I think that when people who take a great deal
(even the lion's share) of responsibility for an enterprise see that
things aren't going well, they feel very alone. Founders and
entrepreneurs frequently feel this way but so do CEOs and other executives
(as well as certain others) who genuinely care about the well being of
their company. Unfortunately, for them, most people don't possess that
same depth of caring about the company where they work. Some do but most
people in most companies don't. The reasons are of course legion and we
needn't go into them right now.

The call (or plea?) for perseverance in hard work and efficient management
is then, to my way of thinking, a class example of a mixed message. On
the one hand, on the surface, it is indeed a call for the qualities named;
on the other, at a much deeper level, it is also a back-handed indictment
of those who don't possess the qualities in question.

>Taking this opportunity to share some thoughts on management: I would like
>to put forward the argument that we do not manage anything per se, but we
>only manage a model of it. An example is the management of an economy.
>Econometric models of the economy are used, in addition to some healthy
>intuition, to determine interest rates, tax rates, etc. The intuition
>itself arises from one's understanding of the economy, i.e., from one's
>mental model of it. Therefore, when things are not working all right, as
>in the case of the organisation At visited, then it is time to look into
>the model that is being used to manage the organisation.

I think I get what you're driving at in the paragraph above and would
tinker with the wording only slightly. Instead of saying that we "manage
our mental models" (versus managing what they represent), I'd prefer to
think that we attempt to manage those things that our models represent and
that we do so in accordance with those models. Bottom line? I agree with
your notion that when things are not working right, it's time to examine
the models.

>Further thinking on such models: It appears, such a model may have two
>parts: A model of the relevant world and a model for action. The first
>will help the manager SEE what is relevant to see. The second will help
>the manager DO what is relevant to do. These two parts of the management
>model are likely to be quite different. To give some examples: (a) a model
>of a television that defines it parts, its functioning, etc., does not
>tell use what programmes we should watch; (b) a model of the weather
>system tells us if it is likely to rain today, but not what we might do if
>it rains (i.e., stay indoors or go out to play).

I make a similar distinction. I've found it useful to separate the
problem solving process into two major phases: investigation and
intervention. The first relies on models useful in analysis, the second
uses models relevant to action.

>Will appreciate your thoughts on this.

I think your notions are on the mark. Where are you going with this?


Fred Nickols
"Assistance at A Distance"


Fred Nickols <nickols@att.net>

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