The Chain Of Command

Most armed services have a chain of command.

In the better countries it is connected at the top end to the executive branch of the government but stands free of the electors at the bottom. In less controlled regions it can be intermeshed with the legislative body and exercise considerable influence on them and the people. In the very worst areas it dominates all government and is a ruthless whip for the dictatorship. But we are not in the worst areas – we are in one of the best – so our chain of command is a good, strong, safe one.

The same cannot be said for many civilian organisations – while you might think they would not need to be as rigid as the military, no-one has told their management. They do not wear uniforms with medals, aiguillettes, and gold leaf, but they can sometimes direct their organisations as if they did. And they frequently have no idea of how to structure their command to get the best out of it.

I’m lucky – my working days are now turned into artistic days and I can respond to suggestions rather than orders. But I can still see the corrosive effect of too much or not enough control when it comes to business. It is a good thing to observe from a distance and if I take the advice of Confucius, I can benefit by searching myself to see where I might reform.

A hint: when there are two or more managers to satisfy before you satisfy two directors, it is likely that the only thing that the chain of command is going to do is rattle.

 

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