Wednesday 10 December 2003

Rules of the manager's chess game

A day to cherish
I had to make a few phone calls this morning to sort out a number of financial matters.
Then I had to deal with the unseemly nature of using an umbrella as a cane especially in such fine weather.
So, it was a beeline to The English Hatter for an ivory tipped cane of the best quality; a gentleman in times when it mattered who you were always was fitly dressed with hat and cane – it is the 21st Century, I think it is just the right thing to do.
Then it was the main English bookstore in Amsterdam for a copy of Tom Peters' Re-imagine. Tom Peters is probably one of the most innovative management authorities of this generation.
He gets you thinking everywhere but in the box; are we not always boxed up in the circumstances we find ourselves, most especially at work.
Petty Tyrants
In reading just the foreword, I could begin to see a world to which I am quite familiar with his initial rant.
"People … in enterprise, in government … are by and large well intentioned. They'd like to get things done. To be of service to others. But they are thwarted … at every step of the way … by absurd organisational barriers … and by the egos of petty tyrants (be they corporate middle managers, or army colonels, or school superintendents).
Even I could not have been that articulate.
Sometime ago I had to tell someone I was at work to do my job rather than just cover my arse; but that in the process of really doing my job I might as well have covered my arse.
Taking liberties of praise
Finger-pointing and accolade hunting are rife within the melee of managers of circumstance rather than merit; appointing ambitious props who being jobs worthies are so far up the management backside, we need a new term for sycophancy.
At one time we hoped we were just pawns in the grand game of corporate chess politics where you shout and are unheard because your boss whilst sitting on you has made it impossible for you to take in air.
But in this new rules chess game, a principal piece gets converted into a pawn on capturing an opponent's chess piece and the King gains an additional power move; first as a bishop, then a knight and then a rook, by which time it moves like a queen, can never be checked and the best you can hope for a bizarre stalemate.
Bad management expertise
As for the original pawns; mindless and monotonous, ball-less minions who know nothing of their professional function than to frustrate everyone else in the team; on the premise that the ability to annoy is management expertise.
Having attended every possible management course they have not learnt that leadership includes an expression of personality which they are not genetically disposed to.
Pen-pushers on acid offered responsibilities that have to be shouldered by more conscientious personnel who are in danger of being besmirched because of the error of managerial judgment.
My friends, this has hardly begun to explain the situation we endure from 9 to 5 in the quest for a pay packet and credibility.
I am an optimist; we belong to the gene pool that is in ascendancy. The day of reckoning cometh, I just cannot wait.

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