Thursday, 6 December 2012

Why managers inflict so much harm on modern society


Because the job of a manager, that upon which managers are evaluated, is to change things.

So managers do not leave things alone: but change things.

And in changing things they wreck things.


Why do managers so reliably wreck things?

Here are some reasons:

1. Because of the decline in intelligence, the large majority of managers are heirs to organizations more complex than they can comprehend; hence they are (as a class) over-promoted and incompetent to maintain, repair and change institutions; plus there is dilution of talent due to the excess of managers, plus there is the deliberate dysfunctionality of appointing managers by affirmative action (i.e. on the basis of an inversion of group aptitudes).

2. Due to the principle of entropy, almost all possible changes are destructive; increasing of chaos, maladaptive, dysfunctional, efficiency-reducing - so only a few of the unbounded number of possible changes can, in principle, improve organizations.(Just as most genetic mutations are deleterious or fatal, and only few will enhance reproductive success.)

3. Managers are not competent to improve things (by their changes) unless they have specific relevant knowledge and experience of the core organizational function. But hardly any managers do.

4. Managers cannot improve organizations by changing them unless they are motivated to improve organizations - this is a personal thing: does the manager really rejoice in improvement, does he mourn a decline in functionality? To ask is to answer.

5. Managers live in a culture of dishonesty: half-truths, hype and spin. They lie to non-managers, to each other and (sooner rather than later) to themselves. Therefore, they do not change things such as to produce real world improvement, but such that they can plausibly claim improvement (to non-managers, to each other, and to themselves).




SonofMoses said...

Your rant reminds me of my misgivings a few months ago when I heard of George Entwistle’s appointment as the BBC director general.
Interviewed about this, Entwistle stressed the message he had received from the governors to be ‘creative’. This was his main observation on how he saw his new job. Hearing this I feared the worse; ‘creative’ being merely a euphemism for pointless change.
One among many Radio 4 enthusiasts, I assumed he would now take it even further along the way of Radio 3, which is now hardly better than Classic FM. Indeed, not being supported by public money, Classic FM has at least some excuse; unlike Radio 3, it never had many standards, so it cannot really be accused of dumbing down.
Incidentally, on the related subject of management speak, Theodore Dalrymple in a blog for the Salisbury Review
drew attention to Entwistle’s reply to a question from John Humphreys during what proved to be a fatal Today interview, leading to Entwistle’s resignation (and totally unmerited golden handshake).
Humphreys asked him, ‘So you heard about it the following day and then what did you do?’
Entwistle answered:
‘I made inquiries as to find out why what had happened on Twitter had happened because it seemed to me that the events surrounding the film in terms of what happened on Twitter were an important part in understanding how this thing had achieved a scale and created a noise around potential identification that was clearly surprising.’
Dalrymple commented: Contrary to what you might think, it is not at all easy to talk like Mr Entwistle; in fact it is a definite skill, the key to success in the modern British bureaucracy. Unless you can speak fluent gibberish like his you will get nowhere within it; you will remain on the lower rungs, collecting bins or sweeping the floors and saying things that people can understand.
If you think it is easy to talk like this, just try it! Yes, try to talk like Mr Entwistle! I think you will find that, however hard you try to prevent it, meaning will keep creeping back into your words.

danbk99 said...

This subject gives me the perfect opportunity to mention one of the few Leftist bloggers I find worthy of reading, Michael O Church. He has recently been on a tear about the evils of Managers and Management in his industry (also mine, Software Engineering.) There is a bit of typical leftist knee-jerk anti-authority sentiment motivating his views,but also alot of genuine insight on the (mostly negative) effects of modern organizations on exceptional indviduals, which he has the common sense to admit are naturally gifted. Some of it may be too specific to the problems of programmers, but I think it provides a good view into the workings of organizations in general.

Besides his recent (November/December) posts, two other past posts stand out:

1. His take on the American class system, possibly a reply to Moldbug's various schemata.

2. A post justifying his belief in
the afterlife.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SoM - it does make it very quick and easy to know what to ignore, however.

This way of talking afflicts the politically correct leadership all all modern Western institutions: politics, law, the church, the mass media, health, education, the military...

That's how we know it is a ruling *class* - because they all talk the same way.

Alan Roebuck said...

“…the job of a manager, that upon which managers are evaluated, is to change things.”


I came to the same realization recently. The current manager does not see himself as a steward, and is not evaluated by the quality of his stewardship. Managers are expected to play a role in the smooth functioning of the organization, but their real glory is to be “change agents,” i.e., agents of leftist destruction.

CorkyAgain said...

Whenever I hear or read prose like Mr. Entwistle's, I'm reminded of the Deputy Director, Wither, in Lewis's That Hideous Strength --- and I shudder.

CorkyAgain said...

I was a team manager during the last phase of my career before retirement. Alan Roebuck is right: managers are reviewed and rewarded for being "change agents" and never for having the good sense to leave well enough alone.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Corky - excellent comparison.

It makes clear that this way of speaking is not innocent, nor merely a joke - it is deeply evil and stimulating of further evil. I speak from experience of the effect speaking and writing this way had on me!