MANAGEMENTS HIDDEN DISEASE
“VI” THE HIV OF MANAGEMENT
That should have gotten your attention. I titled this “VI” The HIV of management, to highlight the insidious nature of the disease and its inevitable result without serious attention and medication.
“VI” stands for Vested Interest and exists in every organization. It is a natural byproduct of sincere efforts to be productive, and proactive, as we face the day to day challenges of improving and being successful. In and of itself VI can be one of the most effective drives toward efficiency and productiveness but like all things it has a dark side. Unfortunately, the dark side of VI is often shielded from our view or purposely hidden.
Every project, committee, idea, concept, etc. must have a champion or several champions in order to be acted upon and brought to fruition. This is desirable not only to ensure the requisite attention to detail but to maintain its impetus as we go about our daily tasks and immediate emerging priorities. It is, however, this very championship that leads to issues over the long run. This is especially true if the champion receives accolades or more critically a promotion because of his/her/their efforts.
The problem exists in every instance and consists of a sense of parental protectionism felt by the championing party. Placing their reputation “on the line”, Supporting the development and implementation of the project, and ensuring its success develops a bond between the introducer/implementer and the final product. IF the matter in question results in a significant reward the individuals bona fides are then tied to the product.
This marriage of necessity develops an unhealthy relationship as the organization grows and requires new and more innovative approaches. The result is often observed as programs, concepts, hardware, and software are kept in place and vigorously defended by those in the chain of command. This is often true because the individuals themselves are adamant but sometimes because the up and coming executives aren’t willing to broach the subject with their bosses who championed the item at issue.
I have personally witnessed in house bickering and resentment develop over attempts to abandon programs that were the brain child of those in authority. When new concepts were introduced and implemented even those with VI had to admit they were better but by then harmony and cohesiveness were permanently damaged.
I called this the HIV of management for a reason. Like the virus it remains undetected eating away at the organizations ability to grow and adapt to the environment. Unless, recognized and treated it will result in slow deterioration of the entire body. It often becomes more and more pervasive as those infected experience denial and become defensive.
So, is there a solution? Yes, but it requires a cocktail of treatments that are never ending.
First, we must educate our staff and executives that this problem exists and is something that needs constant attention.
Second, we need to examine those programs, directives, policies that we are strongly defending to analyze whether they are valid.
Third, we need to ask ourselves if the efforts we are expending to defend various issues are productive or merely defensive.
Fourth, managers need to be educated to take their “hands off” of emerging issues. By allowing subordinates to implement and refine various projects, policies, etc. the manager relinquishes some of the Vested Interest in their outcome and isolates him/herself from the virus.
Fifth, all employees need to be constantly schooled on the concept of “continuous improvement” and a organizational wide perspective developed that allows the abandonment of ANY standard procedure, policy, hardware, or software that can be improved upon. Last (on this list) is that efforts should be made to detach champions from their successful endeavors and train others in the maintenance necessary to continue that effort until it is due for abandonment.
You will notice that most of the remedies for this problem are educational in nature. It requires awareness and frank recognition to allow the problem to be resolved. By having an education and awareness perspective it allows highlighting ongoing problems without personal attacks.
This could become a Doctorate Dissertation but instead it will end as an open ended diatribe. After all I’m just "A GRUMPY OLD MAN"