The Current Style of Managing is a Prison

GE, along with most large publicly traded corporations, and some privately owned, suffers deeply from Silo mentality. In fact, a former client was the conduit for communication between two different divisions: they competed within the company against each other and rarely communicated with each other.

Honeywell has a split culture, with those who were with Honeywell before Allied Signal, used to working in and environment of collaboration, and those from Allied Signal relying heavily on targets and performance goals

  • Command and control⁃ top down⁃ perform or else.
  • With the C-suites insulated from those who do the work:
(Layers of middle management acting like the defensive line in a football game, blocking communication upwards. Turn the org chart on its side and you will see what I mean.)

x x

x x     x

x x


The result is fear and, despite their success, suppression of innovation through the controlling of information, hierarchy and brinkmanship: the classic “Art of War” as business philosophy.

How much better could they be doing if they were to change their glasses and embrace constancy of purpose, collaboration, elimination of fear, flow accounting (vs cost) along with reducing variation and “controlling” costs and were able to stop worshiping at the financial communities cult of short term returns?

Six Sigma, in the hands of these companies, has been made to fit into a cost accounting, command and control culture. Perhaps one weakness is that it does not seem to require people to make a necessary transformation.

As a Business Management System, in practice, it is limited by “the Current Style of Management,” a management style that most people imagine is a fixture as it has always been around. "Actually, it is a modern invention – a prison.”

In the companies above, it appeared to me more to be a “business as usual” maintenance system.

My second observation is, for me, it has a bit of the 19th century mindset of a hand it down from the “experts” approach. the structure of Six Sigma with Master black belts down to Green lends itself to it.

Keep in mind I am not a fan of Quality Departments. I see them as stealing resources from the real work, and I have seen more than my share of excellent quality products made with less than six sigma variation, and some with Six Sigma Quality that no one wants.

But what I don't get is why small business people mimic the corporate ones. Is there a hard-headed do business the same old way gene? 

About the Author

Dan Strongin works with medium to small companies, helping them master the art and science of managing.

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