One thought on “Another vote for eliminating middle management

  1. Arnold Hendrick says:

    I believe the battle cry “eliminate middle management” and create a “flat organzation” is emphasizing a method over a goal.

    The goal, in my opinion, is eliminating reporting structures where a person’s success is determined solely by how well they please someone else in the corporate heirachy. Instead, a person’s success within the organization should be tied primarily to the success of the products they work on, and secondary to how well they work with others within the organization.

    The reason why middle management makes such an easy target is that in many organizations a middle manager’s performance is ultimately based on how well they please a superior, regardless of how well products do in the marketplace. Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss is the classic example of useless middle management.

    However, if the pointy-haired boss and his hapless flunkies (including poor Dilbert) were given the authority AND responsibility for making a product successful, including given their own marketing, sales, and customer support staff, the boss’ desire for survival would be directly aligned to making sure products were successful. This means making sure all the people making, selling and supporting the product can do their best.

    Note that the solution isn’t eliminating middle management. Instead, it’s reorganizing the company to be focused on successful products. Such a reorganization would eliminate some middle management, since VPs of marketing, sales and customer support would be useful only insofar as they contributed measurably to better marketing, sales and customer support of many product teams. For example, preventing bone-headed marketing plans, stopping illegal sales methods, or evading customer support disasters is one way former VPs can still earn their keep.

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