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This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Would You Really Follow a Manager into Battle? -- Britt Blaser's "Escapable Logic" blog has a piece that, while considerably less polite than Tony Rizzo's essay (actually it's largely a major rant against what is refered to as "mangerial capitalism"), makes some interesting parallel points. For one, drawing a distinction between managers and leaders...
"Leaders are people who know how to do what is done by the people they lead. Leaders expose themselves to the inconvenience of proceeding in front of the troops, Tom Hanks-style, rather than piloting a desk while others pilot less predictable craft."
He takes on the current managers of the nation's economy, pointing out that, while today, capital is essentially free,...
"Every economic proposal we're hearing is to increase capital! Like any age, we're focused on the problem that we started with, not the one in front of us. Our economic problem is obvious: we don't know how to inspire and deploy the energy and skill of our work force, so instead, we're trying to put more money into the hands of the wealthy so they'll invest it in enterprises which will be better equipped to do more of what already isn't working...

"...The problem with Managerial Capitalism is not that it's too pervasive and powerful (though it is), but that it is so poor at doing what it claims to do best—allocate people and resources skillfully and compellingly."
Pretty harsh stuff, but then again, a lot of what I hear around the online water cooler, from Dilbert to Gantthead, to discussion groups on TOC, Lean and Project Management often sounds like a variation on that theme.

But so much of it ends up sounding either like the same old "bitching and moaning" or, as in the case of Blaser and other web-centric cyber-thinkers, the basis of thinking for marginal approaches to pieces of the manager's responsibilities like Xpertweb. The question that needs to be asked is how managers can be made more effective in their ability to utilize capital and skills. In my opinion, it lies not only in a deeper understanding of what their charges are expected to do, but also, and more importantly, a deeper understanding of the role of their local responsibilities in terms of the interactions with the larger system in which they work.

While those they manage need to mostly focus on the specific intra-functional contributions of their efforts, managers must learn to lead through inter-functional relationships that define their organizational system.

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