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Originally asked on Telegram by Elena.

Question:

Hi guys! Glad to join the group ) :raised_hands: I met Dima at Venture day in Minsk, where he gave a presentation on Management/motivation and purpose. Dima, thank you one more time, it was a great one, that made me think.

About purpose and the idea that —> initially people do not need any management, but motivation only (or a purpose).

Dima, I’m still thinking it over. Mostly because I look at Management more as at a Structure and showing people HOW to do things (coordination) rather than WHY to do those things. I totally agree that every person has they own WHY (purpose/motivation), but why not show them HOW (manage them)? Is management really so meaningless or maybe I didn’t get you 100% right?

Answer:

Let me try to answer this with a short look into a historical example of management.

Frederick Taylor, who is the father of modern management, once ran an experiment. He found a man who he called Schmidt (real name Henry Noll) and said to him that if he does exactly what he is told: when to work, how to perform the work, when to take a break, when to sit down, when to go to the bathroom etc., then he would raise his salary significantly.

Doing so, he managed to get this man to carry 47 tons of pig iron per day instead of the usual 12 tons that he did previously. He raised Henry’s wages and concluded that this is the evidence of management at its best. Everybody wins, right?

What he did not mention is all of those people who failed before Henry, and got injured. He also forgot to say that this performance was not sustainable beyond a few days.

Now let’s imagine, a different situation – where we ask Henry to focus on figuring out his purpose in life, and when he does – to go work in that industry.

Let’s say he decides that his purpose in life is to produce steel efficiently (I did not want to pick something easy, like “helping the environment”), because his reasoning is that steel might eventually become the best material for space ships and we need to go to space sooner (SpaceX built a stainless steel ship).

It would be doubtful that he would be happy shifting piles of Pig Iron from one pile to the next for his whole life, as I am sure that he would look for smarter efficiencies than just working more and harder.

Most likely he would look for ways of using machinery, technology, conveyor belts. Perhaps he would be the one to develop new ways of creating steel or new types of steel altogether?

The point is that management, generally, assumes that people are:

  1.  Lazy.
  2.  Untrustworthy.

While at the same time, they also say:

“Hire people smarter than you” and “It’s all about the team.”

So if we hire people that are smarter than us, how come we can afford to assume that we are the best people at telling them how to do anything? If they are more intelligent than us – let them tell us how they work and how to make them work efficiently?

Perhaps it is best demonstrated by looking at your own life. Do you know how to manage yourself in the best, most efficient way? How to make sure you never procrastinate? That you are always eating healthy, and doing the balanced things? How to manage every negative feeling and depression? How to make sure you do not burn-out? How to make sure you spend your energy effectively in every living moment of your life? How to make sure that all of your interactions with other people are of a positive nature?

If the answer to even one of those is a no, then how can one possibly assume to be able to do any of the above for someone else, who is not even closely the same person as you are? If you can’t fully control and “manage” your life, what makes you the authority to be able to manage someone else’s?

Therefore, I find it rather useless to talk about management in purpose-driven organizations. What leaders should be learning instead is how to provide proper guidance, at the right time, and place – so as to help people maximize their own purpose and lives.