The Profession of Management
Management is currently undergoing
a bit of an identity crisis. Many managers appreciate the need
for a professional approach: for systematic process; for objective
experimentation; and for design of processes, but find it very
difficult to reconcile this with their typical day-to-day activities
and pressures. For most of them, their role appears to have a
far more operational focus.
Traditionally most management
work appears to have had this 'operational focus'. In this more
'operational' role the manager is heavily involved in sorting
out problems, ensuring people are aware of issues, dealing with
the business interfaces and acting as a specialist resource on
issues that require his/her experience.
Using a gearbox analogy, this
role could be likened to a advanced lubricant: putting out fires,
easing friction, cooling the hot spots, providing a contact with
other equipment and even compensating for missing cogs and sprockets.
But this is basically an incomplete
model of management. If we stick with our gearbox analogy we
can see the need for another role to be fulfilled: that of the
engineer who monitors the gearbox performance, models the key
functions, experiments with different variables, and generally
designs in better operation.
The same is true of management.
There is another, different role to be fulfilled, and it is in
this role that managers can be truly professional. The contrast
between these two different roles is represented in the box-on-a
-box diagram (below).
The 'Top-Box' has tremendous potential to deliver real benefits.
Most people can see the extent to which the performance of their
part of the business would benefit from conscious, intelligent
redesign by people who understood the business and had the time
to do it, and common estimates range from 20 to 40% - more than
enough to justify the salaries of most managers. But when you
ask managers what proportion of their time they get to spend
on the activities required to achieve this, most are so bogged
down in the bottom box they don't get the chance to get into
the top one, and, as a result, nor typically do their people.
So, despite the benefits being
logically obvious, Managers tend to find it very difficult to
escape into the top box. There are a number of reasons for this:
- All the urgent things are in
the bottom box
- They are more sure of their
work in the bottom box
- They don't feel comfortable
with what they do in the top box
- They forget to go there in the
If we are to create a practical
solution to getting into the 'Top-Box' we need to address these
issues. This is Tesseract's raison dêtre.
to 'Our Approach'; Return to 'Management Disciplines'
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