Thursday, March 17, 2011

Myopic Management

Chris Daly of Yucaipa, CA rubs one of Noman's sore spots.  Commenting on William McGurn's column, "Caterpillar's Problems With Peoria," he explains that before "'professional managers' [read MBA's] took over and, among their other changes, turned people into 'human resources,'" there was no need or desire for a union.  Within a few years of their ascent at Caterpillar, not only was Peoria unionized, it was involved in a virulent strike.  Daly blames it on MBA's "myopic management style."

The original article is here: 

Noman takes McGurn's point about unions.  But, he also takes Daly's about management.  It's a little personal because Noman has been laboring in the MBA education field for 20 years, teaching Business Ethics, and Organizational Behavior to intelligent, ambitious and often skeptical quant jocks.  MBAs are people, too.  And people can be worked with to see the human stakes involved in management decisions.  It's simply that they have so much faith in numbers (as opposed to in things you cannot measure), so much exposure to tools and techniques (and so little to discernment and judgement), and the curriculum is so tilted towards accounting, finance, operations and other high-quant subjects (as opposed to conceptual, humanistic or, dare I say it, philosophical subjects) that their education actually handicaps them.  What Daly writes is precisely what MBA students should strive not to achieve once they are given responsibility for managing people.  It doesn't require more sophisticated techniques of manipulation, or persuasive communication.  Rather it requires a greater preoccupation with being trustworthy, learning to curb opportunistic impulses, and coming to value excellence over victory--which all too often proves to be Pyrrhic.  Take heed: numbers are always important; they are never definitive.

No comments:

Post a Comment