A Fairy Tale of Management by Objectives


Taiichi Ohno and other fathers of lean manufacturing have found long ago that quality and productivity cannot be achieved by controlling end-products but are only possible if you have a right process in place and meticulous control of inputs to the process. Even though manufacturing throughout the world fully embraced Toyota Production System and its derivatives, managers everywhere still try to control output variables, instead of process and input variables. Even more, it seems that management by objectives is becoming the preferred management approach of our times. What a waste!

Management by objectives is the same as if a food critic would be put in a role of a chef in a restaurant. While it's of course of utmost importance that end results are delicious, yelling to the kitchen from the dining floor will only frustrate kitchen personnel without doing much to improve quality and taste of food. While our chef Klemen or our ex-chef colleague Tin would be much more suitable persons to describe the actual intricacies of preparing food at restaurant scale (maybe I get them to share their experience in the comments), I know already myself that successful chefs don't spend most of their time meeting other chefs or drinking with patrons, but have majority of their time dedicated to defining the menu, looking for the right ingredients, selecting the right assistants, setting up the process, and teaching everybody how to do things properly.

Oh managers, what got you thinking that you simple wishing something to happen will already make it happen...

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