Saturday, May 10, 2008

A new high score for cynicism...

Although I agree with almost all of his points, this list of Top Ten Modern Myths was a sobering read. A sample:
5. The myth of management

This claims that people can be managed like warehouses and airports, and that some other people are especially good at it. This is entirely wrong, although it has spread over the UK like the grey goo that some fear nanotechnology would unleash (manotechnology, perhaps, and just as lethal). People can be persuaded, and ordered, given incentives and penalties, suppressed and killed, but not managed. Human affairs can be administered, but administration is not management. One administers to people and their needs. One tries to manage them by ignoring whichever of their needs is inconvenient and by treating them as a mere means to your own ends. But, mirabile dictu, people treated like that become irritable and subversive and quite quickly unmanageable.

Marxists and Hegelians would say that management thus contains its own contradiction, or deconstructs itself, although this is disguised by free use of the myth of meaning (qv). The usual response is to hire more managers to manage the mess, and more layers of managers to oversee the managers. The criminal justice system is a wholly ineffective attempt at managing people. An extreme kind of manager is called a consultant, whose claim to expertise is that he costs more. There are, however, three good reasons for employing consultants: it passes the buck; it is public money; and it is easy to justify such expenditure to auditors, who lunch with consultants and are interchangeable with them.

I pause to remind myself, that despite the obvious truth of these statements, progress is made, and lives improve everyday. Spotting faults is an overrated skill.

No comments: