Moneyball with government and business I think management principles should be taught in school. The traditional model is skewed towards inefficiency and micromanagement. It makes more sense for military than for a business venture. Maybe you need strong control and someone in charge for every five to ten people when you are sending men to die. You shouldn’t need that level of control to make widgets. The people who push to the top of business are rarely the most competent. Most rise on their networking ability even if they don’t have the faintest idea what is going on. Unless a business or institution becomes threatened, it will tend to develop parallel bureaucracies that further their own interests ahead of the good of the whole. There will tend to be a lack of interest in changing “what is working” even if the business survives in spite of the bureaucracy rather than because of it. So leading management experts were ignored in the US in the 60’s and 70’s, viewed as academic and irrelevant. The Japanese however were interested and stole a march on the whole US manufacturing sector by adopting management techniques developed by Americans and rejected by American business. That represented trillions of dollars of losses to the US economy, which can be summed up like this: the way you made decisions was wrong. A lot of the principles of good management are common sense things that you may not think about, like institutional memory. A key principle is that the workers on the floor are in a far better position to suggest changes than anybody further up the food chain. They know where the bottlenecks are, they will see unnecessary waste. One of the key obstacles to effective management is the school system. We spend the first twelve years of a kid’s education teaching him that independent thought and initiative are wrong and that they should wait for instructions from arbitrary authority. Half of us then spend the rest of their lives trying to become the arbitrary authority that everybody else has to respect and obey. The winner is the person who gets the authority, not the person who is right or has the most merit. It’s a system based on status and obedience rather than effectiveness. Most businesses are run on political principles, not business principles. Likewise with government departments. We need to teach sound management ideas in school, before kids’ minds are so contaminated that it is no longer possible for them to think that way.


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