Monday, April 27, 2009

Are today’s organizations creating hardworking Idiots?

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Update on December 2011
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I recently discovered this site www.slowleadership.com. It has got good articles related to, and on leadership. I like the quality of the articles here and have subscribed to the site in my RSS reader.

Out of the many articles in the site, i want to point out one article to start with. It is ' Are today’s organizations creating hardworking Idiots? The premise of the article is that organizations today are creating lot of yes men , through the way they operate and their focus.

I believe that the article is hard hitting and makes the serious reader, a bit un comfortable too. From my more than 10 years of work experience, i confidently say that there is lot of truth in what is said.

I have given below a few quotes from the article.

The dumbing down of organizations isn’t caused by poor educational standards or faulty recruitment. It’s due mostly to the crazy pace that is set, and the obsessive focus on the most obvious, rigidly short-term objectives. The result is a sharp increase in hardworking idiots: people who are coerced into long hours and constant busyness, while being systematically forced to act like idiots by the culture around them.

Don’t ask questions. Don’t cause problems by thinking, or waste time on coming up with new ideas. Don’t think about the future, or try to anticipate problems before they arise. Just keep at it, do exactly what is expected of you, and always get the most done in the least amount of time and at the lowest cost.

I think that even a fairly cursory look around most organizations today would confirm the accuracy of this observation. Consider all the time wasted in unnecessary meetings. The obsessive emphasis on staying in touch, regardless of need. The torrents of e-mails, most of which are simply copies of documents of no direct relevance to the people to whom they are sent. The constant collecting of data for no clear reason. Management by numbers and motivation by numerically-based performance measures. Trust replaced by obsessive control and leadership by forced ranking of subordinates against vague criteria determined by committees with no idea of the specific circumstances.
You do not need ethical insight or human understanding to operate a machine, and machines are how many of today’s leaders see their organization: machines for making quick profits, not civilized communities of people working together to a common end. We can only hope some organizations at least see the error of their ways before the hardworking idiot becomes the commonest creature in the hierarchy.

If you are a leader or a manager responsible for a team of people and care about them, i ask you to read the complete article here.

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