Thursday, January 12, 2006

Pollard on the myth of leadership

Dave Pollard writes the wonderfully thought-provoking blog, How to Save the World. I regret that I haven't read him more, but his posts are usually so long and complex that I tell myself I'll save them for when I have more time. Which of course I rarely have had. Until lately.

Now that I'm not working a regular 9-to-5, it sometimes feels like I have nothing BUT time. And mostly that's great, 'cause I can read things like Dave's blog more. And reflect more on things that always bugged me when I was working in the land of cubicles. Heh.

Things like, what passes for leadership in corporations -- indeed, in the country -- these days. Dave (he's Canadian and he starts off his post stating that he loves Americans but not our leaders) wrote a long missive on that very subject recently. You should read it for yourself (especially if you do not happen to be slightly left of center, since it'll expose you to something new). But here is my favorite bit:
...the essence of complex systems [is]: No one is in control. What gets done (for better or worse) gets done as a result of the staggeringly complex interactions and personal decisions of everyone. Even in the most hierarchical organizations, far more energy is expended finding workarounds for incompetent management decisions and policies (without offending management, of course) than is spent implementing the odd intelligent insight that management, with all the resources at its disposal, 'manages' to come up with. Employees, and customers (who are often treated only slightly less paternalistically than employees), actually have almost all the good ideas that would be needed to make any organization much more successful, but it is taboo to listen to them, to even be accessible to them. That would make the leaders look weak, as if perhaps they don't have all the answers. And that, of course, is unthinkable.

Absolutely. Unthinkable.

Take my advice and go read more of Dave Pollard.
Hey, don't forget to take the poll, Grand Rapids bloggers!


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