THE MYTH OF COMMAND &
"A myth underlies
our thinking and acting, because it enables the process to create
a meaning on the basis of a dogmatic belief ".
by H.L. Paans
@ Myth -the CHIEF executive officer-
@ Myth -the GAME-
@ Reality -CHANGE management-
@ Reality - RESULTS-
@ Prophecy -the MOVEMENT-
@ Prophecy -the EFFECT-
@ Prophecy -new MYTH-
chief executive officer-
The chief executive officer (CEO)
is a god in the Valhalla of private and public business, the
only authority in the western hemisphere now religion and also
government are increasingly loosing their status more and more.
The CEO is the mythological god of Command & Control.
The myth calls him the ruler of all change. He tells people what
to do and judges them.
His mighty voice rules the business world and determines: winning
or loosing, the value of the stocks, getting or loosing a job,
heaven or hell on earth.
There is a whole hierachy of executives: supreme gods, gods,
demigods, but nevertheless there is 'god'.
That is the way he sees it himself (she is less well represented).
His self esteem is very high and shows a positive correlation
with his salary, of course including options.
The contemporary chief executive
officer really shows that he is in Command & Control. He
works almost 24 hours a day in performing the tasks of his essential
He changes operational processes and gives his approval to reorganizations
or projects to cut costs (
yes!). He enables more automation
still a good point!). He creates a new structure (
very trendy!). Of course he is an user of the latest management
fashion: total quality management, business process redesign,
customer relation management, empowerment (
just a must!).
He makes use of the media, gets exposed (
and realizes business take-overs (
the jackpot, bull's-eye!).
The supreme gods are happy to see
such dynamism and are very pleased if the short time performance
is also improved. Meaning: improvement of one or two indicators,
which in terms of management, costs, profit, turnover or market
share seem to be essential. The rules of the game are clear:
realizing such goals means a hit, not meeting the goals means
getting the stigma of not being capable or being unmotivated.
Demigods ought to develop themselves in his image and try to
become 'as perfect as they are' (..yep) as a democratic, coaching
and charismatic leader. However, in their eyes it only means
'showing the desired behaviour': create targets, face your subordinates
and say "you fix it, or else..". This way of handling
will create a higher productivity of your staff. In the context
of management development the best style comes down to 'no-nonsense
and macho management'.
The manager fosters the personal power created by his position
as a bottleneck in the information flow.
The manager expresses himself dominantly and acts accordingly
by almost continuously being in meetings or conferences. He also
is very keen on changes which may threaten his status-quo. If
so, he mobilizes all his energy and all of his high-quality skills
to render the intended change harmless, even if this intended
change could be of great importance or even vital for the company.
These threats are most of the time created by other managers,
sometimes by external developments (technology, competitors,
shareholders, society) and just seldom by the employees.
The preceding myth contains mainly
western images and presuppositions.
However, a lot of this myth concerning Command & Control
is deceptive. The truth looks more like this:
- The dynamism in companies often only appears
to be so. Most of
the time it concerns spending energy in internal
battles and in
less- effective, most of the time not profitable
creation of excellent companies exists only as imagination
and exists only in posthumous stories in business
stories told by a management guru.
a business is not limited to the management. Often
external/internal experts and especially autonomous
developments have a lot of influence.
itself involves a marginal domain and is mostly limited
to vague delegation, spinning around decisions and
building up consensus.
lot of lip-service is paid to desired pro-active acting, but
to occur even in a so called situation of 'empowered
Subordinates fail to change into employees,
who really like to
take responsibility for the business. A half-hearted
servant' attitude is continued by both, boss
The reality shows bad results:
internal problems are not dealt with out of the fear
of being unsuccessful. Failures are still not allowed.
A learning, exploring attitude is not appreciated.
window-dressing is paid more attention than
long-lasting effective change.
do not make the necessary distinguishing strategic
risk taking) and simply follow
and make restricted operational changes. They
modifications instead of innovation.
This decade is characterized by more
and even stronger individualization and information processes.
This will lead to:
- an increased change-heartbeat;
- further focus on the visibility of the individual and on a
minded judgement of the results of an individual.
only judging by a narrow scope of cause and effect,
by a simple
input / output model and by a short term target list;
- a more rigorous achievement-oriented payment system will be
applied, also in Western Europe.
But companies can not handle these changes effectivily. The pressure
on the existing and already poorly effective Command & Control
mechanism will further increase.
The top of the pyramid will be more
populated by extremely narcissistic leaders to extort the nescessary
innovation by these 'strong men'. Under the guise of shareholder
value these leaders will do more of the same as the pressure
rises. With every project they start the fake-dynamics in the
The individual elasticity of executives, but also of employees,
is streched out to the limit. The delusion will increase more
and more. Finally this will lead to an increase of the individual
rigidity and confusion.
This is not what is needed. We need continious and effective
change in the whole organization. In other words, metaphorically
speaking: an organization should not operate as a mechanism but
as an organism.
The limited success of planned innovative projects in organizations
will become more and more clear. Even now can be concluded that
planned innovative change is in fact impossible and that we ought
to realize such a learning and innovative ability of an organization
that planned innovation is made superfluous.
Companies, managers and employees
have to sacrifice a lot, if they hold on to the present myth
of Command & Control .
Also the social toll of this rat-race will have a heavy impact.
There will be an increasing number of people who get stuck and
Is this really what we want? Is there really a no more attractive
live desirable than being a employer or employee, captivated
and tied up in a 'scoring' and 'learning organization', as a
member of a 'self-managing team', to be a highly competitive
player in a strategic poker game for power and competitive force?.
However, defeatism is not necessary. The contours of a new myth
are becoming visuable. The birth can only take place by way of
increasing instability. Only then a critical mass can be reached
for the new myth of Negotiate &
You and I contribute to this development and would do well to
let go of the old myth of Command & Control.