Comments There's more than 10 dismal management fads, but Lucy Kellaway picks out the ones that irk her most. What's the worst management practices your company has used? Leave a comment on the story or email careerquestion globeandmail.
Harder, by far, than picking the best management ideas of all time is picking the worst. In the 20 years that I have been writing about these things, I have seen so many come and go that whittling the list down to the 10 most dismal, most damaging or most daft management fads of all time has been exceptionally challenging.
However, here are the ones that, in my view, merit inclusion. The list is in no particular order. This idea, made popular by Daniel Goleman in and still very much in vogue almost 20 years later, says that people who can empathise with others do better.
It is a heartwarming theory and it would be awfully nice if the world were like this.
The longevity of this fad tells us a great deal about the power of wishful thinking. This was invented at Hewlett-Packard in the s and then much favoured by the great guru, Tom Peters. I suppose I can vaguely see the point of it, if the alternative is having managers who never poke their noses out of their offices.
However, to expect constant wandering around to have any important effect on anything — apart from paranoia levels of staff and the shoe leather of managers — strikes me as gloriously wrong-headed. This one is so complicated and contains so many tricky equations that it can only be understood by the most expensive and highly specialised management consultants.
As far as I can understand it, Six Sigma is all about isolating and eliminating the causes of defects. There is nothing wrong with that in itself; it makes perfect sense. It was made big in the mids at Motorola, but other companies that enthusiastically espoused it quickly became bogged down in endless meetings and found they increasingly had trouble distinguishing wood from trees.
This was an ugly term for something blindingly obvious: It is a great idea in theory. But it has two flaws that can make it very dangerous. The teamwork obsession started about 20 years ago and is still very much alive. This is also a fad that was introduced about a decade ago, and is currently at peak popularity.
The idea is that only by making mistakes do we learn, and that therefore people should be encouraged to make lots of them. This is one of the nuttiest ideas of all.
Excessive fear of getting things wrong can be paralysing, but moderate fear is surely healthy and necessary as it helps ensure that most of the time we get things broadly right. This was the craze of the early s, touted by various people including engineer and business writer Michael Hammer.
It was all about businesses tearing up their old ways of doing things to make them more efficient. Actually what it turned out to be about was giving lots of work to management consultants, and then firing half the workforce.
Thus it got a very bad name and mercifully fell out of fashion. But my name exposes the ridiculous insistence by managers that workers will be more productive if there is a playground slide in reception. Some internet companies still appear to believe in the doctrine, but it can only be a matter of time.
This became big in the s and was possibly the worst way of organising people that anyone has yet come up with.
It meant that people with a speciality were all bundled together and then parcelled out ad hoc to work on different projects. The upshot was that everyone had several different bosses and it made office life one long turf battle.
Or the idea that everyone must be true to themselves. This idea is not only unspecific, it is sentimental and unrealistic — the whole point of being a manager is that we get to be someone else. However, I was amused to read a very pertinent line on a coaching website:Jul 27, · Management fads come and go, but these five turkeys keep hanging on!
Liz Ryan runs down the five most brainless management fads that need to disappear, pronto.
Aug 25, · These eight management fads have wasted far more time and money than they were worth. Check out this Sales Machine hall of shame. Many management fads have been closely tied to organizational control systems. For example, one of the best-known fads was an attempt to use output control to improve performance.
Management by objectives (MBO) is a process wherein managers and employees work together to create goals. Jul 27, · Management fads come and go, but these five turkeys keep hanging on! Liz Ryan runs down the five most brainless management fads that need to disappear, pronto. Dec 23, · We can’t let big data be just another management fad.
Instead, big data promise to disrupt the whole notion of management fads, and with it, management . Management fads and fashions have absorbed American executives, board’s members, managers, and others occupying leadership positions in organizations since the Second World War.
To illustrate this.