Sunday, June 24, 2012

Micro Manager Metric Maniacs

The overwrought alliteration shows my disdain.  They are everywhere, but they use code words to describe themselves.  I’m “detail oriented” they say.  Never will one introduce themselves and say, “hi, I’m a micromanager.”   Their involvement in every aspect of operations is necessary, because no one can live up to their expectations. 

One chief who was an administrative nightmare to work for had many of these characteristics.   I called him a “shotgun manager.”  He never met an idea he didn’t like, so there were a hundred projects all in progress at the same time.  Because of this and the necessity for his involvement in everything—he couldn’t delegate to save his life—that meant that nothing ever was completed.  Since everything was a priority, nothing was.  Luckily, he wasn’t like this on the fire ground (fire ground micromanagers are even more scary) , and to this chief’s credit, he eventually evolved, changed, and improved, but that is the exception with this type of manager, not the rule. 

The data collectors are worse.  They never met a metric or measurement they didn’t like.  Just because an activity is quantifiable doesn’t mean it should be.  The argument is that the “workers” only do well what is checked—so these guys check everything.  When we measure everything, the same shotgun result occurs.  Since everything is a priority, nothing really is. 

My contention has long been there are typically four or five big important things that make an organization successful.  Measure and take good care of those, and everything else—the details—will take care of themselves.  I never thought it was rocket science, but maybe it is.  Einstein said “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” 

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