Ian Blyth – It's Just a Thought

My thoughts and opinions

Managerialism

Posted by Ian Blyth on 21 June 2007

I was interested to read Stumbling and Mumbling’s post about this. In particular the quote from Managing Britannia.

The notion that [19th century managers] had in common a single talent which can be identified as “managerial skill”, capable of ready transference between their different callings, is pure fantasy. That Dr Barnardo could equally well have run a chain of newsagents, or that Thomas Cook could just as readily have run a chocolate factory, is manifestly absurd.

I have to disagree with that as a person who has been a manager and changed industries a few times. I think the skills of management are very similar. Technical skills and vertical knowledge can be learned. What makes the difference is that Dr Barnardo had a passion for helping children and Thomas Cook had a passion for holidays which is why they went into those areas. In fact you may be able to make a case that it was their passion that helped them succeed rather than their management skills. But the fact is that they did demonstrate those skills and if their passion ran in another direction I have no doubt that they would have been good at that as well.

Over the years I have worked for both good and bad managers. And what makes a person a good manager and what makes them a bad manager are pretty consistent. The trouble is that bad managers survive because their managers are not good enough to spot the difference.

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