Once again a writer has struck a chord. Thank you Linda Keenan & Janine R. Wedel. As usual, it takes someone with a broader perspective, social anthropology in this case, to see what is really going on.
“Only by engaging in irregular practices can the manager run a successful enterprise.”
Does this quote describe the unspoken operating principle for profiteers of Goldman Sachs, and the rest of the disgraced financial industry? It could. But actually the quote is from economist Joseph Berliner, in his classic study of management methods not here in America, but in the Soviet Union.
For that Soviet-era manager, “success” meant meeting production targets, or, at least, appearing to meet them.
14 here. This describes my experience at my large bank.
What was the personal agenda for a manager during the Cold War years? To please authorities. An entire language was developed under communism to describe the practice of creating fictions to do just that. Russians speak of ochkovtiratel’stvo, literally, to kick the dust into someone’s eyes, or as we might say, pull the wool over someone’s eyes. In the case of a factory operating under central planning, that meant anything from managers subtly readjusting figures to outright falsifying them to appease or fool their overseer. They took it as a given that false reporting – pripiski–or other shady practices was the norm.
14 here. As we have asked before, how does such a culture come to exist? How do our institutions come to resemble Stalinist coping mechanisms? It is not happenstance. It is because of what has been imposed by CEOs, or even by shareholders who are too often speculators. That is why I keep posting on the ownership conundrum. We are not going to solve this until we have new types of owners.
But what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Will the owners and CEOs change first, and then allow other managers and employees to change? Or will the employee and his manager begin to say “No!”, and usher in a new age of CEO and ownership? People throughout the organization must begin to have the courage to say “No”. That is how all revolutions begin. Martin Luther King said “No!” Mahatma Ghandi said “No”. Revolution does not have to be violent so do not be afraid of the word.