I’ve often said that there were only 3 useful things I learned from my MBA.
The first was the difference between how successful and effective managers spend their time (successful managers focus on the needs of those up the org chart and they climb it quickly; effective managers focus on the needs of theirs customers and those working on them but they don’t necessarily get promoted very often; only a small percentage of managers are both successful and effective).
The second was Kirton’s Adoptor/Innovator theory (some people like small, adaptive, incremental changes; some like radical, new, leaps; it’s a continuum but birds of a feather tend to flock together).
The third … I forgot.
But today I remembered!
Actually, my friend Greg reminded when he sent me this link to Elliot Jaques’ obituary from 2003. One of the very first papers I read during my MBA was about Jaques and it was a refreshing, if shocking, change from most of the touchy-feely tom-peters-esque stuff that I’d previously read (and loved – if I’m honest) about managing. Basically, what Jaques said, is that hierarchies are there for a reason – if you flatten the hierarchy then be very, very careful you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Actually, he was saying a lot more than that but rather than me trying to summarise his decades of remarkable (and seemingly ignored) work in my poorly spelt Chinglish why not read this: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1425176/Elliot-Jaques.html instead.
And, if you don’t dismiss his ideas outright then why not pop over here and download Julian Fairfield’s free business novel Levels of Excellence which features many of Jacques’ ideas. (You’ll need to register then login first). I stumbled across the book in Melbourne airport just after it was published as a paperback in about 2002/3 and I remember enjoying it immensely. I’ve not read it since … but I suspect it’s still worthy of your valuable time. I’ve recommended the book a few times since then but it was out of print. Now it’s available for free. Go grab it!