Extracts taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs to be reached. ‘The Flipping Point‘, contains 200 short vignettes exploring what ’deprogramming management’ may look like.
Demonising hierarchy is easy and politically correct but not terribly efficient.
Demonising hierarchy is easy and politically correct but not terribly efficient, unless you have a serious alternative. Most alternatives are simply a type of trade-off. From the hard dictatorship of the top leaders to the benign dictatorship of team leaders. From the benign dictatorship of team leaders, to the invisible dictatorship of the pseudo-democratic ‘we don’t have managers here’. Then, the power to those who shout more. Then, back to ‘I think we need good leaders’. Then, back to some sanitised hierarchical structure. Then up again. It’s merry-go-round management. The only question is when is best to stop the music for a while. Where the best trade-off is.
My very first article on management topics, after my time as a clinical psychiatrist, was entitled ‘Kings or Cousins’. Get rid of the tyranny of the king, but get the tyranny of cousins, barons and local leaders. It’s a choice. Hierarchy will never go away, no matter how attractive and money making for consultants that idea may be. Fighting hierarchy is fighting our natural world, our own animal nature. Hierarchy belongs to the category of the certainty of ‘Death and taxes’. The practical thing to do is to decide on the type of hierarchy, quality and quantity. The dichotomy hierarchical versus non-hierarchical organizations has been fabricated in Academia and Consulting because it’s sexy, forward looking and a good topic for an article in Harvard Business Review.
To preach de-hierarchical-isation is to preach de-humanisation, not the opposite.
To preach de-hierarchical-isation is to preach de-humanisation, not the opposite. When you reframe hierarchies as the problem into hierarchies as the solution, then you’re in business. They can facilitate, resource, create, give permission to act and buffer continuity and reassurance. Those fundamentalists who fight hierarchy as a principle tend to be the ones who are less smart at making good use of it.
The reframing of hierarchy from problem to solution may not make me very popular but I believe that we have created so many antibodies that we have become a bit blind. I am very suspicious of the de-hierarchical-isation movement as a fashion on the catwalk of management.
This book asks you to use more rigour and critical thinking in how you use assumptions and management practices that were created many years ago. Our real and present danger is not a future of robots and AI, but of current established BS. In this book, you are invited to the Mother of All Call Outs!
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- The myths of change. How traditional management and academic thinking is responsible for the colossal failure of change programmes. Debunking uncontested assumptions. Looking at the alternatives.
- The myths of company culture. Stuck in old concepts. How we have made cultural change hard and often impossible. The failure of communication programmes. The key to successful mobilizing of people for a purpose.
- The myths of management. Empowerment, ownership, accountability and other little challenged ideas. Non-management myths. What new management may look like.