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 first place

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 d’être.

Return to 'Our Approach'; Return to 'Management Disciplines'


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