A lot of great ideas start in the heads of creative minds. Unbound by budgets, planning, and customers, these ideas are passed around, and some of them turn into projects.
As soon as companies and managers get involved in realizing great ideas which are not really theirs, things can go very wrong. The least that can happen is that something isn’t built. Tomtom on an iPhone? A brilliant idea and technically possible, but non-technical people get in the way.
What’s maybe worse is that something actually does happen. Adding “mail document” to Ms Word for instance. Or putting a Calendar application in the dashboard of a Prius. This we call “feature creap” or “scope creep”. When features are added not because the customer wants them, but because management thinks they can charge for it.
Another thing that can happen is that as carefully designed product is rolled out, which suddenly picks up sales. Now that it’s a succes, the design is pulled from the people that had the original idea, and some manager decides to make it “better”.
And then there are the managers that understand to leave things alone. Don’t hold your breath, these managers have another trick to ruin things: time pressure. Leaning on people and putting constraints on things effectively makes them no worse than the manager who decided to “make it better”.
Becomming a manager may mean getting a better salary and a nice office, but statistically you have a bigger chance of being clueless while telling others how to do their jobs.
All of this is happening because there are people on the “workfloor” who think that the way “up” is “management” without realizing that managing is actually a profession you should learn, or like I always like to say, “be”. There is a fine line between learning a trade and intuitively being a craftsman which people almost never get to cross.
A good team can perform with a lousy manager, and the other way around. So why is it that the manager is always the guy with the bigger salary?
Ofcourse there are people who do not fit this whole story, but they’re probably typing flames in the box below this article which I will then have to delete with a smile.
I think that a lot of this “you need a career” sillyness will go if we start paying people what they’re worth, and stop paying huge amounts of money to those who clearly do not deserve it. You can start today by asking yourself if you want to earn more money, or do you really want to become a manager, even if it pays less?
Maybe finaly the janitor will get payed a proper salary, maybe even more than that lousy boss of his who works 3 hours a day on a desk grunting at his staff. I wouldn’t mind if our janitor made more money than I do. He works hard for it, he deserves to make a good living.