James O'Neill's Blog

February 10, 2008

For our friends in other departments

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 11:40 pm

marketingRay Fleming posts over on the Education blog: he has news of the little Asus we saw at BETT, it’s being sold by RM – the company where I started my career and met Ray some [ERROR: NUMBER TOO LARGE] years ago.

After the cartoon I posted last week, Ray sent me a good natured mail with the “Marketing” bit of his job title underlined. That gave me another idea. And I’d like to point out that both cartoons can be read more than one way 🙂

I could have picked quite a few departments. I keep quoting Robert Townsend’s Up the Organization The first section of the book is “ADVERTISING” and it starts “Fire the whole advertising department””, next up EXPENSE ACCOUNTS: THEORY X DISEASE , the cure “fire the checkers, and start to build a Theory Y company “, Moving along the alphabet we come to “PERSONNEL (PEOPLE Vs)” opening “Fire the whole personnel department!” and a couple of pages later “PR DEPARTMENT (ABOLITION OF)”  which opens Yes, fire this whole department, too.” By this point a pattern is emerging so when you “PURCHASING DEPARTMENT” it’s no surprise to read Yes, fire the whole purchasing department..” Even in the appendix he keeps going, “Campus Recruiting. Send the people who can’t go… fire the recruiters and put together a group of the [Evangelists]” ending that section “By the way, fire the training department…”

 I’ve got a more detailed post that is proving hard to write: it looks at different people-styles, because of that I was looking at “Colin Powell on Leadershipagain. Point 3 in it is
“Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.”
In the supporting text it says
“Policies that emanate from ivory towers often have an adverse impact on the people out in the field who are fighting the wars or bringing in the revenues. Real leaders are  vigilant, and combative, in the face of these trends.”

long time back I mentioned Thomas Kuhn’s “The structure of scientific revolutions”. and its idea that scientific communities all believe the same thing and change comes from outsiders. Isn’t that Powell’s “inbred-Elites” ? That long list of departments are “Elites and Experts” that Townsend sees as having an adverse impact, and being “combative” is part of his belief that a manager should “eliminate his people’s excuses for failure. “

So if you work in marketing, I’m not picking on you. I could have written “purchasing” or any of the others listed above. But if you work in IT (as most readers do) would a lot of people have you on the list ? And if so have you thought what you might do about it ? 

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


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