15th Jul 2011
July 15 – Routine is a wonderful thing. It is what makes companies work.
I am well aware that much of the supposedly increased productivity in British companies is the result of the elimination of middle management. Well, no doubt, there was some duplication and unnecessary management in many organisations in the past, but to dismiss middle management as unnecessary is something akin to madness.
Middle management hold the collective knowledge of an organisation. Whatever senior management (like myself) like to think, they make the place work. Of course there are systems, rules, obligations, contracts, and everything else to comply with, and by and large they know that. But they also know how to make these things function, and if one were try to make everything work as it should then the whole thing would probably fall apart.
What’s the relevance of this? Well, any management who aren’t looking quietly over their shoulders a consequence of the News International debacle must be mad. I’m not saying there but for the grace of God go all managers, because that clearly would not be true, but equally I am saying that people do things without permission, because they think they work, and sometimes and senior managers simply are not aware of that fact.
I do try to keep a close eye on what happens here. Occasionally I am even boring enough to just go and sit and read through piles of purchase invoices for the simple reason that I learn a lot by doing so, so long as I ask intelligent questions. I see no reason why I should authorise payments to people who I don’t know about. But that, I guess is the point I’m making. If middle managers make things work by smoothing out systems, senior managers have to look through systems, and sometimes act in ways that are unanticipated to make sure that things operate as they really desire. I see no reason why I shouldn’t do that, but does everyone?