15 March 2010

Business Processes and Real Management – Part 1

I had a conversation with one of my daughters on the way to the airport today. She was telling me about something that went on with regard to management decision-making at her work. (She works in the field of education, but the principle I wish to discuss applies everywhere, in every type of organization.)

The scenario is something like this: An executive (and here I use the term “executive” in the broadest sense, meaning any manager in a position to not only choose, but also to execute upon the decision made) states that he or she is going to make a management decision based upon a process (or, in this academic environment, a rubric – a process for scoring an otherwise subjective decision). However, upon further discovery and discussion, it becomes apparent to all involved that whatever “process” or “rubric” is ostensibly being applied is purely subjective and intuitive to the manager alone. That is to say, what is pretended to reduce an otherwise purely subject and intuitive decision to a “process” – a “rubric” – is merely that, a pretense. The decisions being made remain purely subjective and intuitive and are not correlated to a “process,” at all.

Now, let me be clear. I am a free-market guy. I believe that business owners and their executive agents should be able to hire, fire and make other management decisions at will. I am fully committed to the fact that they may do as they please so long as their actions do not include coercion or deceit. In this scenario, it is not the executives decision with which I take issue – which is why the decision itself is not discussed herein.

What I wish to discuss is how many times executives and managers are themselves deceived as to the presence of a “business process” or any kind of rubric by which they manage. From my experience, if I spent time cogitating, I’m certain that I could come up with a large number of examples. However, for brevity’s sake, let me just toss out a couple.
  1. Foremost in my mind are the numerous discussions I have had with executives over the years regarding so-called “sales management.” I say, “so-called,” because I have too many times been faced with one of two variations on the same theme in this regard. The first is where the owner of the small-to-mid-sized business (SMB) was the companies first salesperson (which is quite natural, as the organization was likely an outgrowth of some entrepreneurial venture) and remains today as the firm’s sales manager. He or she has, over the years, created a sales team of hand-selected folks, and the executive is convinced that each of these salespeople is unique and each requires special handling – a sort of prima donna approach.
(To be continued)
©2010 Richard D. Cushing

No comments: