From my Disruptive Ideas book and Accelerator, I’d like to bring this one to the table as a follow up form my previous Daily Thought on ‘The cost of checking’.
The more ‘command-and-control’ you practice, the less control you actually have and the more you’ll need to command. In today’s organisational life, there is little room for the ‘and’ between the words ‘command’ and ‘control’. If anything, it is ‘command and ‘be a slave to it’. Lose control and you will actually gain more control.
If ‘nuclei of control’ are scattered all over the organisation and the company functions well, that is a clear sign that there is no need for a central ‘command and control’. It is also an indication of distributed independence, of trust in people’s capabilities that is spread across the organisation. Although the days when the uniforms of Woolworths’ staff had no pockets (to make sure they didn’t steal) are long gone, the days where individual employees and teams don’t have much room to decide for themselves (as they may make the wrong decisions) have not.
Command and control management is intellectually dismissed by many who are convinced of its inefficiency and waste. But rational understanding is not necessarily the same as emotional integration. There are many different ways in which you can exercise command and control… and you might be doing it even if you say you don’t subscribe to it. The following are just a few examples that I frequently see in my consulting work:
Excessive ‘reporting back’ on points included in a project.
Too many reviews and rehearsals of presentations.
Pre-approval of certain types of communication outside official reporting lines.
Decision-making powers accumulated at the top of the organisation chart.
Devolved responsibility, but with little budgetary room for execution.
Decision points centralised around formal meetings.
As I said, the paradox of control is that the more you let go of it, the more control you will have as there will be several ‘points of control’ scattered across the organisation. If you think this is something you can’t afford, then that already tells you a lot about the kind of organisation you have.
More tomorrow: the Control Diet