Responsibility trumps Management

Responsibility Trumps Management

There is an interesting hypothesis in the market today which is that giving people more and more responsibility, while risky, yields greater results than the typical style of hiring a group of people and then hiring a manager to be responsible for that team. Successful companies have realized the fundamental flaw of the traditional approach being that the responsibility, the onerous has always been on the wrong person(s). Responsibility has much more depth than people give it credit for. Responsibility spawns feelings of pride, fear, stress, desire – just to name a few. In the context of work and a career, when coupled with competence, breeds major efficiency. If you don’t believe me, look for videos on youtube of Steve Jobs talking about what makes his company successful and he clearly talks about defining strict responsibility to people as the key.

So…responsibility has been defined for us. Now, let’s look at management. Management is the function that coordinates the efforts of people to accomplish goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. That is fantastic….in theory. In reality this is never the case. Which leads to a premise we established in a previous post. Efficient organisations today don’t need to be run with bosses, but structure. Efficient organisations today don’t need people run by managers, they need responsibility. 

Let’s be brutally raw for a moment. This may offend some, it may disagree with others, but let’s cut straight to the bone. Managers are put in place in todays organisations for reasons like co-ordinating, abstracting, planning. They are also put in place to act responsible for anything that the team produces, ruins or miscommunicates with other teams. Ponder for a moment, like I did. Doesn’t this all sound like just a huge buffer for people? If team member A doesn’t to their work properly then it is the managers fault? No. If the team produces great work is it the managers doing? No. If a project is late, is it the project managers fault? No. If the project is of bad quality is it the workers fault? No.

So as we can see clearly, we have a whole bunch of people – that in the end are not responsible for anything and hence the true feeling of ownership has not been place on anyone.

Now we are not saying that there are not managers out there currently doing fantastic work, quite the contrary. What we are eluding to is the the idea of a “manager” is dead.

“The role of a manager has come to its end.”

 Those people that currently are given the managerial role and are doing fantastic work are not really managers, they are just dedicated people that will do anything to get the team over the line. People don’t need managers, they need responsibility. Those managers are responsible for the team, but that team is responsible for their own wins and loses. Responsibility = Ownership. Ownership = Pride. Pride rarely breeds bad results.

But what are we going to do about the miscommunications, the planning, the organisation that the manager was doing. Let’s be brutal again. In todays technical environment….when is miscommunication ever a lack of communication but rather someone not knowing really what they want or how to do it. Well then let’s not call it miscommunication, let’s call that lack of visibility. Abstraction, what about that. Otherwise known as shielding. This, especially with tools like CluedIn, is not a real problem anymore. Sure, in the past this was a problem, but times have changed and industries need to change with this. Abstraction breeds ambiguity, cloudiness – in an environment that is shrouded with unknowns. Abstraction in programming is the idea of building generic interaction points where you simply assume that the interaction point will do its job. This is fantastic when you have a computer doing the job, but human error happens and hence this abstraction is not the solution when you know that the other end can be brittle. 

What we are trying to show is that we have just taken all the typical responsibilities of the manager role and shown that it is redundant. 30 years ago if I told you that the role of manual data entry into computers would be soon redundant, many would have borked, simply because “That is peoples jobs you are talking about”. Our argument is that, this is exactly the same situation, just with different circumstances. The role of the manager, will not die, but will shift – and should shift if we are to adapt to the optimum ways of running an organisation. 

Tim Ward

Founder, Developer and Loudest Employee at CluedIn.