June 26; Can Anything Get Done When No One Is Accountable?
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful


Chapter Six: Correction; 26 June

Choose some wise, understanding and respected men

from each of your tribes,

and I will set them over you.

Deuteronomy 1:13

Can Anything Get Done When No One Is Accountable?

Democracy Inaction

What’s the fastest tactic to drop some revenue straight to the bottom line?

No. Don’t cut marketing.

Cut that wasteful overhead.

Fire the managers.

Does business really need managers? Or first-line supervisors? Or should organizations simply go Greek and give every citizen-employee a voice and a vetoing vote?

Management guru Peter Drucker once thought that in the future there would be a large span of control for knowledge workers and less need for middle management. The corporation would be run more as a pure democracy.

This was the theme of a Wall Street Journal article, Managing: Can a Company Be Run as a Democracy?, by Jaclyne Badal. She writes of a company, Ternary, and begins:

Ternary runs itself as a democracy, and every decision must be unanimous. Any of Ternary’s 13 other employees could have challenged [a] decision and force[d] it to be revisited.

Running a company democratically sounds like a recipe for anarchy, and it can prompt bureaucratic whiplash: Ternary, a company with annual revenues of around $2 million, adjusted salaries for employees up and down several times last year.

Advocates say such systems appeal to workers, particularly younger ones, searching for careers with meaning. “Everyone wants to be a somebody,” says Traci Fenton, founder of WorldBlu Inc., a Washington organization that promotes workplace democracy.

And that is the challenge for managers and stockholders. Younger workers today, not really needing money or security, are moving up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, challenging any corporate hierarchy on their way to becoming self-actualized beings.

But not these days. Structure is out. Boot-licking is out.

If there were no problems, or no change of any kind, or no exciting opportunities to compete for capital budget allocation, there would be no need for that overhead known as the Manager.

A Democracy replacing Bureaucracy experiment usually doesn’t work. The reasons are easily explained.

We are all equal in the eyes of the Creator or under the law and the blind eyes of Justice. But we are not equal to each other. Egalitarianism of this sort is for Marxists and the French. Not for profit. Sorry.

The manager may not be able to fire an employee for incompetence these days, but she can fire for insubordination. Or she might be tasked with reducing headcount; maybe to improve cash flow. The manager’s vote counts: yours may not. Sorry.

Democratic-egalitarian management will not work for most organizations because, sooner or later, the building will catch on fire, so to say. Emergencies will not permit much discussion, or consensus, or a vote tally. Sometimes there isn’t time.

And someone has to be in charge. There must be a Captain of the ship.

And even if the building is not burning, too much time-consuming ‘consensus building’ is exhausting for the manager and paralyzing to the organization. The wise manager can do the balancing.

The liberal president Bill Clinton famously had enormous staff meetings with each participant partici-panting. The meetings ran long. Clinton ran late. Nothing got done.

Oh, well, maybe there is a place for Democratic management…

Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you. Deuteronomy 1:13



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