This paper is an edited version of an article by A. Wyrcan, first published in Management Today, March 1975.
Published here July 2010

Editor's Note | Introduction | The Interview | The First Day
From "Chaser" to General Manager | Authority Confused with Management
Labor and Management Confrontation | The Business Must Be a Winner
At the End of Four Months | Conclusion | Issues for Discussion

Authority Confused with Management

The first revelation in my role as General Manager was that, in fact, there was a system for the management of sales orders, production programs, and stock control. However, there was nothing for job costing or any form of control on production irregularities and material wastages. That, of course, invalidated the other aspects of management, which had fallen into disuse for a variety of reasons. Either someone had left or been fired, and the function had ceased for this reason, or it was discontinued because the person responsible had let it lapse, knowing there was no enforcing machinery.

Authority had seemingly been confused with management. There was evidence of a confusion of instructions, commercial, management and technical, issued willy-nilly to all and everyone. There was no plan, other than the Boss's edict, for what would be produced over each 12-month period, and that program was never followed through anyway. There were no checks on the relevant aspects of getting the program produced. Certainly there was no way of telling whether there were resources available to meet the program in the first place.

Everyone from sales to production had their alibis for not doing what was thought necessary. Design changes and program changes to suit customers' demands were so many that all could shift their responsibilities back to the Chairman. It was impossible to be sure what had been ordered, or if it had been ordered at all. In such a climate of lies and counter lies, the main preoccupation was in creating excuses for not doing what was needed within the limitations of the organizational arrangements.

To add to the confusion, where there were shortages, which mainly evolved from procedural failings, the Boss would initiate an engineering change and introduce a substitution. The resulting obsolescence added to the general clutter. Needless to say, more often than not the purchasing department would fail to cancel material to the original specification. The cost was great, and the effect upon production from a morale point of view was disastrous. The constant changing damaged interest and, more importantly, caused assembly shops to become fitting shops, just making do all the time.

I learned, too, that new products were introduced to production without any preliminary trial runs to iron out the inevitable snags. Every product had an ever-growing list of design variations. The drawing office was becoming as large as the assembly shop. Surely this could not be a typical example of small business? Or could it?

From   From "Chaser" to General Manager

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