Isn't Management Fun?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Winter Quarter started at DU on Monday, and these are my textbooks for my course, "Organizational Behavior." There are two LOS (Leadership and Organizational Studies) classes that are required for my degree program, so I'm biting the bullet and getting it done this quarter. My reward for this sacrifice is my Study Abroad program this summer.

As you can tell, I'm not very excited about this quarter. I used to be merely ambivalent about Leadership and Management training, but the Navy beat it out of me. Over the course of my 17 years, I attended 240 hours of leadership training, none of which was acceptable to DU as transfer credit. The other required class is entitled "Leadership."

I can't wait. Really.

And to add insult to injury, these two required texts were $230.00.

I usually try and make the best out of required coursework that I wouldn't otherwise take, but I'm having some trouble finding motivation on this one.

31 comments:

Nathan said...

I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but I'd suggest that 17 years and 240 hours of training puts you into a unique position in this class. Instead of viewing it as a class that may or may not teach you new things, why don't you look at it as an editing assignment.

Tear the books apart (if they deserve it), and be a star in the class. Or praise the books and back it up with real world experience.

I'm sure you can make it work for you.

Anne C. said...

Where are you planning to study abroad?

John the Scientist said...

Nathan - that ain't gonna endear her to the rest of the drones in there to get their B-degrees, or to the prof. She needs to keep her head down until she has cover (i.e. a final grade in hand). I'd save the snark for the class evalutaion - take notes every day with the evaluation in mind and let 'er rip. If you do a good enough job on the eval, send an edited version to the school newspaper.

I'm an unfortunate veteran of Orgy Behavior, and it was largely useless. A few tidbits here and there that could have been delivered in a one-week module, but then how would the profs justify their $100 K + salaries?

I had the unfortunate postion of being in the class of a guru of this crap, and yes, we used his book.

The worst is that Meyers-Briggs pseudo-scientific crap (based on Carl "Collective Unconcious" Jung's theories) that everyone in business has swallowed hook, line, and sinker. I've taken an MB test at least 4 times in big business, and I'm not sure what it's told my boss (I usually land in INTJ, but depending on what I've been doing recently, I can land in other areas - it's not reproducible).

I'm a freaking P-Chemist turned MBA, did they think I was going to come out all squishy (ESFJ or ESFP) on them? They needed to pay a high-priced consultant to administer a test that tells them that I share a lot of personality traits with other analytical types? WTF?

Janiece Murphy said...

Guys, I don't intend to be the snark-master of the class. All that does is annoy the other students - especially the ones who are majoring in LOS. I'm going to try and learn a few things (because why else spend the time?), and get out with my "A."

Anne, I'll be going to Montreal for my Study Abroad program. Not exactly "abroad," but better than Mexico City.

Nathan said...

I'll bow to cooler heads. It's been a long time since I've been in a classroom, virtual or otherwise.

John the Scientist said...

Well, Janeice, don't miss an opportunity to point out where kids with less epxerience htan you are getting their heads filled with happy horse s#&t. It's just that the time to do that is after you've been a good girl all semester and done what's asked, with maybe the occasional pointed question when something really egregious pops up. Please do constructiveley criticize for the benefit of the next generation of students.

Janiece Murphy said...

John, I never pass up an opportunity to be opinioned...you should of figured that out by now. I always participate in class. My classmates in this setting are all adults, though, finishing their degrees.

Tania said...

Well, maybe there will be something you haven't heard before. Maybe.

Oh, who am I kidding. Think of it as a semester of people watching.

I lucked out. My MS program shares management classes with the MBA program. How does that signify, you ask? Well...most of my management classes had more engineering and science students than MBA students (I swear we keep their program afloat), so they were annoying, but I was annoyed with my peers.

Be strong!

Janiece Murphy said...

Tania, thanks for the encouragement. I started my week 2 reading last night and was treated to the following stunning revelation:

When people have the same amount of skills, and do the same amount of work, they become unhappy when they aren't paid the same.

You think?

Anne C. said...

I'll be going to Montreal for my Study Abroad program.
If they speak a different language, it counts as "abroad." ('Course that would include the deep south and some parts of North Dakota, so maybe that's too broad a description. ;)

Janiece Murphy said...

Perhaps you're correct, Anne. High School French was many many years ago. So it should be interesting!

MWT said...

If you want foreign languages, you can just hang out in the Chinese takeout where I work. We have oodles of them.

Janiece Murphy said...

I don't, actually. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I have no gift for language.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

I am aghast. I actually know what the INTJ, ENTJ, ESFP crap IS. 24 years of Navy leadership here. I din't think that the real world had bought into this drek also.
I'm stunned. Weeping.
So, with that being said, and as one that can't just sit there with head down, my vote is to be class instigator. In a thought-provoking way, of course.....

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Or maybe, you will luck out and sit at the Miscreants Table, like I did for my last, most memorable Leadership class. The one that I, uh, said that I completed a lot earlier than I did because I needed that paper to send in with my E-8 package (read: forged). Fat lot of good that did me.

Janiece Murphy said...

I know, I know...shocking. Just shocking.

$230.00 worth of shocking.

John the Scientist said...

Oh, mechanicky gal, my MBA program borrowed lots of stuff from military leadership classes. I had to take Military Leadership and Organization classes as an undergrad (required even of non-ROTC at my school 0 they said 80% of engineers wind up working Defense at some point in their careers, so it's good to know how the customer thinks) so I recognized a lot of stuff.

We even had to watch the Army training video on After Action Reporting.

Too bad they didn't winnow the wheat from the chaff when borrowing that stuff. Myers-Briggs is voodoo. Did you ever take the thing about 2 months apart, once when working on a technical project, and second time when working on a softer project (or vice versa)? The examples in the back of your mind fomr your most recent experience really drive your answers.

Of course, as someone who succeeded in P-Chem at the graduate level, I was never going to be anything but an "I" or a "T", but you really don't need a test to tell you that.

Jim Wright said...

Damn, I'd tried to put the M/B crap out of my head. The Navy bought that crap hook, line, and sinker - right before they went down the Demming TQL voodoo woo woo group think hole.

One of the really things I really enjoy about retirement is that I no longer have to put up with the bullshit leadership fad of the month.

Janiece Murphy said...

Jim, I intentionally have not taken a "leadership role" in my civilian career, in spite of all those years of experience. I don't want to "coach," especially in a Union shop.

These two required classes will be the last time I address this. I sincerely hope, anyway...

Jim Wright said...

Janiece, yeah, what you said.

If I never see a Gnatt Chart or a Fishbone diagram again it'll be too soon.

I led 218 combat mission into enemy territory - and never once stopped to lay out a Gnatt Chart. Fuck Demming.

Janiece Murphy said...

You fuck Demming. I told you, I'm out of the management business.

And I love the way you spell "Gantt." Much more appropriate.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

I do have top say that one of the requirements for getting a "Corrective Action Request" (basically, it means you fucked something up, or your upline contractor is pointing at you regardless) is to do a FLOW CHART.
How tempting to send in my MENSTRUAL CALENDAR! Wouldn't THAT be a hoot!
However, I sat myself down and produced a beautiful flow chart, complete with small explosions and correct start/stop symbology.
Imagine my distress when, after all of my hard work, said LARGE SHIPBUILDING CONCERN IN SAN DIEGO (NASSCO, I am looking at you) tells me that it is "unacceptable". Yay leadership stoopid shit.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

I drew 6 boxes, a straight line and 6 more boxes.
They were ecstatic.

Janiece Murphy said...

I would LAUGH MY ASS OFF if you sent NASSCO your menstrual calendar. I would want that on FILM.

John the Scientist said...

Jim - I really have to defend Mr. Gantt, here. I work on projects whose scope is 10 - 15 years, with at least 12 different business lines getting in the critical path at some point. Testing can lead to gray areas (it failed these two criteria but paseed the other 8, what do we do now?) One of my customers is Uncle Sam, and we have to plan our interactions with him months to years in advance. Gantts and flow charts are realy, really useful in my kind of business. But for entrepreneurial or combat type operations where inputs are often random and fluid? Useless.

And the use of such tools is not "leadership", it is management. There's a difference, and businespeople tend to forget that.

Janiece Murphy said...

John, clearly Uncle Sam tends to forget that, as well. Otherwise we would not of wasted so many years trying to apply "TQM" (disguised as "TQL") in the military services.

God, what a waste of time...

Steve Buchheit said...

Having worked in Management Consulting I can say, without hesitation, most business philosophy is crap.

Once "Teams(tm)" were the big thing, we all went out for "Team Building Exercises." The group I was in include three partners (one senior level). We had to do the Gordion Knot (everybody stands in a circle and grabs hands across the way, then you need to untie yourselves). After five minutes of the partners going, "let's try this, you go here, can you make it under?" I stopped the exercise by putting on my command voice, took charge, and directed people in the solution I saw. We were done half an hour before any other team.

The "Let's talk about this exercise and what we all learned" part was hilarious that day. "Boy, Steve can be pushy."

Most management leadership crap is based on the false assumption that anybody can be a leader, all it takes is the rank and position.

John the Scientist said...

Well, I would think that Gantts would also serve the DoD well for new equipment acquisition, and perhaps for logistics on the Divisional level (or higher). But to think such tools would be useful at the platoon, company or even battalion level is insane. It means that those in the echelons above reality really don't understand what it is they are doing with said tools.

It reminds me of the scene in "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" where he wows his technical drawing class with the discovery that the tangent to the bottom of the French curve is always a horizontal line (slope zero). If those dweebs had actually understood what they were doing in calculus class, they would have realized that of course the derivative (tangent) at the minima of a curve is slope zero. It's part of the damn definition of the derivative. But no, they left their calculus knowledge in calculus class, and never really internalized it.

The world is full of glib @#$holes who talk a good game but don't understand squat about what they are doing. They get through school on brute memorization and go on to cause the rest of us headaches. one of my co-blogger on the ChicagoBoyz calls them "articulate intellectuals" with disdain.

Janiece Murphy said...

Steve, yeah, I've been accused of being pushy once or twice, myself. Not that it's true or anything...

John, it seems to me that what you describe is a simple issue of recognizing your own limitations.

For example, while there are some things I'm very good at, math is not one of them. Which is strange, because my Smart Father was a mathematician, and my Smart Boy is doing college level work as a HS Junior. I guess it skipped a generation.

I'm okay with it, though - I don't need calculus in my daily work, and I make no bones about my lack of skill. Hence I don't take on airs about it - I recognize my limitations, both in native ability and math education.

Is that what you mean, or did I completely miss the point?

John the Scientist said...

No, I'm talking about the phenomenon economists call "rent-seeking". You see money being made, you want a piece of the pie, but you really don't bring anything of value that's good enough to convince people to give you a piece of the pie.

So what do you do? You find a nice no one is occupying, overempahsize its importance, and worm your way up the organization.

That's how you get "Organizational Behavior" gurus who sell books telling you that people want to get paid what everyone else does, and the like. People who value "processs" over actaully making things. Why do people like that intentionally get in the way of really useful people? Because they have nothing to bring to the party, but they still want a present.

Those guys in Feynman's class were like that. In the 40s, a technical education was a pretty sure road to good job. They memorized the algorithm for generating a derivative, and never bothered to think about the "why", just concentrated on the "how". So they get hired as a technical guy, serve their requisite 10 or 20 years and get promoted. Are they going to look for people with top notch minds? No way. They pick subordinates who are as dumb or dumber than they are. That's a major mechanism driving failure in big business and government over time (the only company still left form the original cohort of companies that made up the first Dow Jones index is GE).

People like that also let their insecurities drive them to embrace every management fad that comes down the pike. It's not math knowledge that';s the differntiatior, it's internalization of knowledge. People who say "well, if X is true, then I ought to see Y happen", and then go searching for the cuase if Y doesn't happen - those are the truly useful people, and such people tend to be skeptical of mangement fads.

See here.

Money quote:

"The contempt that most of the scientific staff has for "modern management techniques" is hard to underestimate. Problem is, we're used to having to prove our hypotheses, and show data (with appropriate controls, yet) in support of them."

Janiece Murphy said...

John, I think I understand now. Thanks for the clarification. Strangely enough, I was listening to a Podcast on this very topic today - an archived 'cast from the New England Skeptics Society.

I think it was Jack Welch who said first rate managers hire first rate people. Second rate managers hire third rate people.