The statement above is meant as a provocation, of course, but not a frivolous one. Here’s my thinking…
At the top, management (or leadership, if you prefer) is a matter of awareness of the total process; the whole entity, as it were. However, a consciousness of the “whole” of business – or commerce, or trade, management, leadership, or organisation, etc. – cannot be found in a consciousness of any of its “parts”.
What happens is that businesses like to focus on particular “problems” and then managers are trained to solve these by ‘seeing’ things selectively, and to do so in bits rather than wholes. The whole of our economy is predicated not just on growth but on the idea that we’re working our way somehow toward some kind of desirable end state or goal, with obstacles to control that are problems. There’s no doubt that technologically, at least, a lot has been achieved this way. So why do we never quite seem to get there? Our attempts to fix things always, ultimately, send us back to the drawing board; our careful, analytical reasoning and planning redundant and our short-cuts themselves short-circuited by unintended events (often of our own doing).
Whether by tradition or design, the MBA curriculum is also built around a categorisation, a selective sampling and division into parts. The names of those parts change over time, reflecting fashion as well as purpose, and overlap rather than integrate. This energy and intellectual innovation in business schools has undoubtedly led to many advances and successes at reaching goals. But my question is whether these amount more to a bag of tricks than they do to real insight or wisdom. In fact, how much of MBA output is indicative of the same short-term thinking that pervades corporate thinking, and which pervades it increasingly so? And this at the expense of the awareness of the ecological system that actually provides the boundaries.
People’s thoughts are welcome. Counter-positions particularly so.