Naughty…but nice


Say the phrase “Command and control management” out loud.

Doesn’t sound nice does it?

What do you think when you hear it?

Things like…

You know, all the nasty horrible and very stupid things.

But what happens if where you work is quite nice?
My organisation seems quite nice, the part I work in anyway. Nothing nasty. Nobody is shouting, there’s no unreachable targets to meet, no timing of poo breaks.
Your place is probably nice too. You might find it hard to use the phrase “command and control” without first thinking that this seems a bit of a rude thing to say.

It’s not.
Command and control is the assumptions about work and managing, not the style of management carried out by individuals.

This is command and control management…


But so is THIS…

It’s not the nasty bullying that makes a command and control manager.

The nice lady above is showing that in her organisation decisions are made seperate from the people who do the work, and that change should be made through plans and objectives.

This is as much command and control as the nasty shouty man who is showing that he thinks setting individuals targets is a good way to manage people and work.

Although it might be nicer to work with the red-haired lady, the work will still be managed under a flawed set of assumptions about work. This will mean although the management style is nicer, it is still as ineffective as the shouty man.

Command and control isn’t shouty and nasty. It’s just what most people in organisations think.
It appeals because it seems normal and natural and it’s what most people see around them wherever they work.

Look for how work is managed, how people are managed and how change is managed. This is how to spot command and control management, it is the thinking that limits the ability of the system to best meet customer purpose.
That is never nice, it’s always naughty.



This entry was posted in all wrong, change, command and control, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Naughty…but nice

  1. Keep ’em coming…always makes my day.


  2. Kojak99 says:

    another succinctly put article. If only they could see the damage that the wrong headed initiatives are doing their organisations. Once seen its hard to ignore, but getting them to see is the difficult part.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      There’s a lean book (that i havent read) about value stream mapping or something, that is called “Learning to see” which i always have thought is a great title, cos thats what its all about


  3. There is a conversation about this on Agile For Humans — full disclosure, I was a guest on that one.

    Does work come from strong leaders who demand the ultimate productivity from people who don’t want to be there, but only show up for the paycheck?

    Does work come from motivated people who want to make a difference and perfect a craft?

    What is it that “makes” people work? What theory do you use?


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