Why Is Management Failing?

by Jay Deragon on 09/14/2012

How do you know when management is failing?  When they can’t see through their own smoke.

Management failures can happen gradually or suddenly. Gradual failures don’t usually get noticed until suddenly there is a series of crisis that put the entire organization at risk. Whether gradual or sudden we can look across all industries and see the signs of management failure rising like smoke from a fire.  The smoke gives off signals to those observing the signs of trouble approaching on the horizon.

The problem is the many, employees, customers and suppliers, can see the signals but management and leadership are blinded by their own smoke.

Jamie Notter writes: Management is failing. I know this sounds a bit harsh, but I think we need to be honest with ourselves. While we do have a huge global economy supported by thousands and thousands of successful companies, we don’t actually have a lot of strong evidence that our organizations are succeeding BECAUSE of the way we manage them. In fact, there is increasing evidence that the way we manage them is actually holding us back. If we changed the way we manage, we could be much more successful than we are today.

Think about it: our general approach to management has not changed in over fifty years. The processes we use today (strategic planning, hiring practices, performance reviews, etc.) are the same ones our parents and even grandparents used. Why are we not startled by that lack of innovation?! And even worse, over the last fifty years we have seen a significant amount of scientific research that indicates that many of these practices are not effective, yet we continue to use them anyway. If you want those details, check out Pfeffer and Sutton’s book Hard Facts, Henry Mintzberg’s The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, and Dan Pink’s book Drive. Their arguments (and cited research) are compelling. Doing things the same way over and over again even though we have evidence they don’t work: that’s the definition of insanity via What Social Media Means for Leadership | Reply-MC.

Blinded By Their Own Smoke

Management has difficulty seeing through the smoke they created from putting out, or they think they are, all those little fires.  The little fires grow to big fires and the  common response of the day is “hire some better fire fighters” rather than finding the cause of the fires.

The cause of the fires is management. Blinded by the smoke of their own fires they can’t see they are failing because of their thinking and the past actions, or lack of action, that started all these fires.


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