Paradoxes of ideality: the ideal management.

Y. B. Karasik,
Thought Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.

The authors of TRIZ-journal are eager to push the envelope of TRIZ, to apply it beyond its initial domain of applicability in technology. Such non-technical applications of TRIZ sometimes result in paradoxes. Here is one of them.

I was pondering of what the ideal manager is. According to TRIZ, the ideal manager is a manager which does not exist but subordinates themselves know what to do. As soon as I realized this, the faces of numerous ideal managers that I have ever met immediately passed in the front of my eyes.

Here is Victor Benoit who did not show up for work most of the time. And here is Larry Evans who regularly showed up in mornings, put his bag on the desk as an evidence of his presence, and disappeared for the rest of the day. And here is Victor Chung who stayed in the office all day but every day marveled:"What are people doing ? Do not know ! People themselves know what to do !" And here is Mike Irwing who hated if somebody asked him for an assignment: "If you ask me for an assignment, it tells me that you do not want to work !" And here is Antoine Karam who used to murmur nonsense under his breath and then yell: "Is the assignment not clear to you ?" And here is Rasim Kasimov who used to openly preach ideality: "I want people to work by themselves ! I am doing politics. Let people do the work !"

When I was a manager, I was anti-ideal in this respect. I used to divide the work into equal and fair chunks, give clear assignments, instruct people what to study (if they needed to learn something), help with problems resolution, etc. etc. That is why my superiors were eager to put their friends, relatives, relatives of friends, and friends of relatives under my command and demand me to work for the entire group !

Due to the TRIZ principles, the number of ideal managers in any organization increases over time. Any organization evolves towards "the ideal management", when there is no management at all.

There are certain stages in the organizational evolution towards such a management. The founders of any organization are usually its brains and driving force. The ideas flow from up-to-down. In the course of time the ideality aspiring boss appears who does not want (or unable) to work (or is too busy with intrigues/politics). He hires a deputy who works for him instead. Next stage: the number of pairs "ideal not working boss + not ideal working deputy" multiplies.

Then deputies are demoted in their rank. They become not deputies but rather senior technical persons. The rank of their seniority goes down all the time.

Organization reaches its apex when the only people who know what has to be done are recent university graduates. Managers from top to down just demand:"Tell me what needs to be done ! Give an idea !" And the grads come up with ideas and solutions. Ideas flow from down-up.

Surprisingly enough, when organization reaches the state of such ideal management, it becomes utterly inefficient ! (Contrary to the TRIZ expectations from ideality, though !)

What, did you say that I was wrong in my interpretation of what ideal management is ? You say that the ideal management is a slim and highly efficient management at the same time ? Well, then organizations definitely do not evolve towards such an ideal management. They always evolve towards a fat inefficient management consisting of "ideal" managers in my sense.

Thus, whatever point of view on ideal management you take, yours or mine, there is a paradox and contradiction to TRIZ !