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Grab Tech: Folk Music & Capitalism (36) RE: Tech: Folk Music & Capitalism 22 Jun 08

As far as the "moneymaking monster" goes, that's a classic fallacy.

Yes, you are only playing a single role in a much larger organisation. That's not necessarily a bad thing though - although I could play the parts that the other guitarist and bassist play in the band, I can't play them at the same time as I'm playing my guitar, so we're all needed to make that sound. And if the drummer misses a beat somewhere, or if one of the guitarists misses a chord change, we can usually cover for it. More radically, if one of the guitarists quit, we could find another guitarist. But if all of us decided we'd had enough, the band would cease to exist.

A company is only a standalone entity from a legal point-of-view. In practical terms, it's only as good as its members. If you've got a huge company, people can probably come and go as they please, especially at the lower levels, without changing much. But the further up the tree you go, the more important the decisions are. The irony is that top management involvement rarely helps things, but it's quite easy for top management to undermine the company and morale, and things go right downhill as a result. Or higher management overrule lower management (or the men at the coalface) and say "we're going to do this anyway", and again things go wrong. A successful top management is more likely to be one that says "I'd like us to be here; tell me if it's achievable, and how we'd do it" and then lets people make it happen. That's few and far between, as far as I can tell.

It's easy to see the difference though - look at what works. Why is it that Japanese companies can set up car plants in the US and UK and make a profit, where American and British companies have all crashed and burned? They have the same people doing the lower-level jobs, after all. The answer can only be with management - in other words with a structure that lets people at the coalface do their jobs effectively, producing something which meets the market's needs with the required level of quality and at the right price. Yes, this ensures the best performance of the corporate entity - but it's also the only way of ensuring that those people at the coalface continue to have jobs next year.


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