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  #1  
Old 23rd August 2007, 09:12 AM
Benjamin28 Benjamin28 is offline
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I Say... Effect of Inept Leadership and Mismanagement on an Organization

I was having a conversation...turned argument...the other day with a colleague. The question put forth was whether a business organization can succeed if top management is inept. My initial reaction is no, never going to happen. My friends stance was that it is highly possible depending on the caliber of talent in the operational staff. I was willing to concede that it is possible, if you have great talent in your staff but inept managment, for a business to survive, but I can't see any business really being successful if top management is chasing its own tail.

Well, anyway, I was looking for an example of mismanagement, just something to underscore my perspective on how poor top management can really cause a company to fall into a downward spiral and I found the story of Sigil Games, which I find to be quite fascinating. It's older news but if you have not read it before, it makes for an interesting read. I just find it amazing that you can gather so many talented folks together and end up with such a mess.

The short version...Sigil began developing an online game with the financial backing of Microsoft and some of the finest talent in the genre of online gaming. Due to gross mismanagement the company spent the first 4 years or so developing portions of a game but no real functional product. At this time Microsoft dumped the project as a lost cause, and SOE scooped it up and set a release deadline. The staff then broke their butts for a year, working long shifts every day, to develop a semi-functional product at release (what most gamers describe as a steaming pile of error ridden poo). Shortly after release, the entire staff was brought out to the parking lot and fired, by a production manager, the ceo wasn't even present. Allegedly he was never in the office the final year the business was operating.

One funny thing, during the intitial years of development of this game there was only 1 quality assurance tester. How in gods name would you expect one person to check that much code, and I wonder what his daily job was like.

Anyway, the story of this company just amazed me and I figured I'd put it up here to see what you all think of it. Below are links to two interviews, one with a staff member of sigil, and another with the CEO, two different perspectives on a very strange business debacle, and as I said, an interesting read.


http://www.f13.net/?itemid=562

http://www.f13.net/index.php?itemid=561

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Old 23rd August 2007, 09:40 AM
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Re: Inept Leadership and Mismanagement

I have, will, and will always maintain that for an organization to be effective, they must have competent management and leadership.

Many times in an organization, we wished we had freedoms to do as we see fit. Or... if I were boss, we would do...... I would surmise that both of these scenarios quickly dissolve into a quest for some semblance of leadership and wisdom. When I was a teenager, I was for sure my parents did not know anything. Funny how now I call my dad all the time for advice.

Any organization can compile all the best resources, talent, etc., but without leadership to guide the process, keep the process lean, and beat the competition doing it, mediocrity will rule at best.

And oh, as a subset of this thought... read through all the posts on failed quality systems (or failed anything) and see how many times upper management is held responsible.

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Old 23rd August 2007, 09:52 AM
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Re: Inept Leadership and Mismanagement

Sometimes I wonder if there isn't a "Hogans Heroes" element to management. That was an old TV show where the prisoners of a prison camp got away with all sorts of things while an inept German officer (Colonel Klink) ran the camp. In fact, the prisoners went to great links to make the Klink look good so he stayed on the job.

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Old 23rd August 2007, 09:58 AM
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Re: Inept Leadership and Mismanagement

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In Reply to Parent Post by Steve Prevette View Post

Sometimes I wonder if there isn't a "Hogans Heroes" element to management. That was an old TV show where the prisoners of a prison camp got away with all sorts of things while an inept German officer (Colonel Klink) ran the camp. In fact, the prisoners went to great links to make the Klink look good so he stayed on the job.
Hello Steve,

I believe that the "mushroom theory" applies upstream and downstream.
Many times, the top person is also "kept in the dark and fed sh*t."
The top person is surrounded with yesmen who all have a vested interest in the status quo. Examples? Look at the news......

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Old 23rd August 2007, 10:05 AM
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Re: Inept Leadership and Mismanagement

Let's separate management and leadership.

I think a company can survive without leadership. I was in such a company at one time. There was no leadership at the executive level. The CEO was prone to hissy fits and clearly played favorites - and the VPs were always jockeying for the favorite son spot.
But they were pretty good, if sometimes harsh, managers.
The company was always in the black and profitable enough to pay out some decent profit sharing.
But their growth was strictly through acquisition, not actually increasing efficiency in the existing plants or driving into new markets.

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Old 23rd August 2007, 10:10 AM
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Re: Inept Leadership and Mismanagement

Quote:
In Reply to Parent Post by Benjamin28 View Post

I was having a conversation...turned argument...the other day with a colleague. The question put forth was whether a business organization can succeed if top management is inept. My initial reaction is no, never going to happen. My friends stance was that it is highly possible depending on the caliber of talent in the operational staff. I was willing to concede that it is possible, if you have great talent in your staff but inept managment, for a business to survive, but I can't see any business really being successful if top management is chasing its own tail.
The problem is that your argument assumes its own conclusion, I think. If "inept" is defined as having a propensity to ruin the business, then you're certainly (and obviously) correct.


But I think there are degrees of ineptitude, and until the point of critical mass is reached, a business can attain some measure of success with a top manager who's not tightly wrapped. One of the measures of competence, though, is selecting competent underlings, delegating authority, and letting them do their jobs. If a CEO can't do that, then success will be hard to find.

A while back I started a thread about an article about the idea that the same deficiencies that create incompetence also prevent people from being aware of being incompetent. It's an interesting read, and relevant here.

In the end, what's most often described as lack of competence manifests itself as lack of leadership skills, and while a dearth of leadership might allow for short-term gains, it almost always ends with failure.

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Old 23rd August 2007, 10:25 AM
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Re: Inept Leadership and Mismanagement

Quote:
In Reply to Parent Post by Steve Prevette View Post

Sometimes I wonder if there isn't a "Hogans Heroes" element to management. That was an old TV show where the prisoners of a prison camp got away with all sorts of things while an inept German officer (Colonel Klink) ran the camp. In fact, the prisoners went to great links to make the Klink look good so he stayed on the job.
Yes, that one is a thread to itelf; classic study of subterfuge. It also reminds me of first seasons of M.A.S.H. where Colonel Blake was projected mostly as inept, with the camp being ran by Radar. Also, the doctors could do anything they wanted. But, is effective management not also about delegation, to an extent? Does it matter who gets things done, just as long as they get it done?

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Old 23rd August 2007, 10:32 AM
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Re: Inept Leadership and Mismanagement

Great discussion, but the auditor in me looked for the original question: "...whether a business organization can succeed if top management is inept."

The operative words are "can" and "succeed", both of which are viewable in infinite shades of gray depending on qualifications of "can" and expectations of success.

Yes, it is possible succeed to survive: if __XYZ__. There are a lot of if's; just fill in the blank and keep going until you're sleepy or too agitated to continue.

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