Thursday, July 12, 2007

Laziness = Good Management

Thanks to Will Manley, I can take consolation in the fact that sloth is my #1 deadly sin, since supervisors/managers like myself are apparently at their best when they're lazy.

In the July '07 issue of Booklist, Manley focuses on a famous scene from American literature, where Tom Sawyer cons his friends into painting his aunt's white picket fence. He depicts Tom as the ideal model for effective management:
"The best managers are basically lazy. Like Tom Sawyer, they do not like to work, and they are very effective at dreaming up ways to motivate others to do what needs to be done...I routinely give Tom Sawyer to my new managers and tell them to throw away their management textbooks... It's the hardest thing in the world to tell a high-achieving and deeply motivated young person not to do any work. 'Your job is not to do the job,' I tell them, but it's like telling a heroin addict to just say no. Workaholics are addicted to work. They do not make good managers. Tom Sawyer is precisely the sort of person they abhor, but what they don't understand is how productive his laziness is... Tom was the con artist par exellence. Not only did he get others to do an onerous job for him; he got them to pay him for the pivilege. This is management at its best, and it was born of laziness." ("Tom Sawyer and the Art of Good Management," p 12)
I don't think I'm quite up there with Tom with respect to con-artistry, but maybe I should be honing this skill since I'm slothful to begin with. I'll put that on my self-evaluation next year.


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