Monday, November 11, 2013

Is Management Structure Even Necessary?

How about a different "model" for management? Perhaps the Polaroid corporation management model? To challenge the conventional WhizDumb & perhaps even your assumptions about setting up a standard management structure and lots of process, consider the success of Polaroid, in creating the 60-second instant camera. To quote from an article that frequently compares Edwin Land with Steve Jobs:
There was no managerial structure supervising the diverse groups involved. There were no written specifications that had to be accomplished. There was never any scheduled plan for when any task had to be completed. Yet one person, knowledgeable in every field involved, orchestrated this endeavor by challenging the available technology and the ingenuity of the many persons involved and expanding the boundaries of both. That person was Dr. Edwin H. Land.                                        [ref: here; viz. 1994 Optics & Photonics News]
Let's break this down point by point:

  • no managerial structure
  • no supervision structure
  • no required written specifications
  • no schedule
  • no plan
Can you imagine such a working environment? I doubt it. It requires a Land. It also represents the opposite project management approach to that of the Big 4, where "Methodology" and "Process" are co-Regents, and guarantee automatic success, except of course, when the project ends up in cost and time over-runs, cancellation, failure, and litigation. Somehow I've never seen those last 5 process "pathways" explored, or even described in the Method/1 documentation, although almost every project I've seen them work on has ended up traversing them. 

TheHackerCIO will leave the implications of this as an exercise for the reader. A sort of meditation exercise. But the point TheHackerCIO takes away from this is that all the apparatus of the Big-8-6-5-4/MBAhole establishment: process, managerial structure, specification, scheduling, planning, managers who know nothing about anything but management, and, of course, the Litigation Department as a Profit Center -- all of that is not a necessary condition for success. 

And it's interesting to ponder: is a lone innovator orchestrating an entire project, pushing others to achieve what they thought was impossible, is that the ideal model for innovation? Given the extraordinary achievements of both Land and Jobs under this model, is certainly enough to make one consider it.

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