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In Praise of Micromanagement 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Sydney Finkelstein writes at BBC that Steve Jobs, Mickey Drexler, and Jeff Bezos all have something in common. They are all builders of giant brands, very successful, and each is (or was) 'an unmitigated, unapologetic, micromanager!' The modern executive is taught — in business schools and in many jobs — that to manage people effectively is to delegate, and then get out of the way. But it's not delegate and forget says Finkelstein; it must be delegate and be intimately involved with what happens next. Micromanagers must be selective. You can't delve into the details of everything, and in fact superstar micromanagers don't. 'Steve Jobs was intimately involved with each product the company designed, and was even famously involved in designing the glass stairs at the Apple stores. But financial and operational issues were delegated to second-in-command and current Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook.' One key is that micromanagers must be experts. What could be worse than a manager immersed in the details who really doesn't know his stuff? Finally, it takes a strong, trusted team to be a micromanager. Could Steve Jobs have spent weeks with the iPhone design team if there was no one else to mind the store? If not for Tim Cook, perhaps the legend of Steve Jobs would not have turned out quite so well. 'The good news is that the best micromanagers are often the best talent developers,' writes Finkelstein. 'Their attention to detail, their intimate knowledge of the business and their deep involvement in what's going on actually enables more, not less, delegation.'"
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In Praise of Micromanagement

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  • Experts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:04PM (#45031483)

    What could be worse than a manager immersed in the details who really doesn't know his stuff?

    I don't know but knowing your stuff probably has a bigger impact than micromanaging.

    • bad metrics (Score:2, Funny)

      by Joe_Dragon (2206452)

      that look at the wrong numbers

    • Re: Experts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:10PM (#45031527)

      Plus pretty sure that Jobs and co micomanage projects, not people...

      Most micromanaging dunces these days barely knows what kind of business their company is doing. Therefore are reduced to tell you when to poop or how to sharpen your crayons...

      • by kilodelta (843627)
        You got that right! I chafe something fierce at being micromanaged.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by MacTO (1161105)

          If you're pointing out that there is a difference in micromanaging people and micromanaging a product, your right.

          If you're whining about accepting direction from your employer, then you should be fired.

          • by kilodelta (843627)
            My definition of micromanagement: When your boss stands behind you while you're on the phone talking to a client. That's micromanagement.
            • by Ash Vince (602485) *

              My definition of micromanagement:
              When your boss stands behind you while you're on the phone talking to a client. That's micromanagement.

              Actually in my case he is on skype, madly typing stuff while I completely ignore a silly little icon flashing in the corner of my screen :)

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              Or when you are posting on Slashdot. Man, that's annoying.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            There's nothing wrong with taking direction, as long as they hand off responsibility to you for knowing your job. The whole point of employing someone is for them to do tasks you don't have time to do, or maybe expertise.

            Back when I started working in offices as a clerical temp, I worked for a micromanaging supervisor who could never be satisfied. No matter what I did, she would pick it apart even if her boss told me directly there was nothing wrong with the work. Eventually I quit, and was nice enough to g

          • by wideglide (899100)
            Worst case : Project is late (not unheard of) and boss sits beside you while you code and test. I would not mind if he had at least a bit of a clue about what I'm doing but he's a pure and unspoiled paper-pusher with no idea about the techniques used and the area of work ... No - he did not achieve his goal. The project was exactly on time (as it should be) and all deliverables were there. He had a private timeline and tried to force it to the weakest point (in his view). Next time I'll just stand and wa
          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            No, the hierarchical system which puts one person over another and allows you to "be fired" should be abolished.

      • Re: Experts (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @11:57PM (#45032679)

        Yeah, Jobs didn't tell people HOW to do stuff he just told them things like the results are crap or it has too many visible screws, it's the wrong colour, needs more rounded corners, it's not insanely great. Or it's finally insanely great.

        To back me up: http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-engineers-are-being-micromanaged-by-corporate-2012-5 [businessinsider.com]

        He's like a food critic who usually knows what he wants and has high standards for many areas. Doesn't tell those in the kitchen how to cook, but sure tells them when it's not good enough. You can do it whatever way you want but come tasting time you better produce something good enough for him.

        Jobs was not a micromanager and the writer is clueless.

        • by Ash Vince (602485) *

          Jobs was not a micromanager and the writer is clueless.

          Actually for the MD of huge multibillion pound business getting overly involved in product design might be considered micromanagement.

    • Re:Experts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by OneAhead (1495535) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:47PM (#45031751)

      What could be worse than a manager immersed in the details who really doesn't know his stuff?

      I don't know but knowing your stuff probably has a bigger impact than micromanaging.

      I'd say that someone who really knows their stuff will have an inherent tendency to micromanage to a certain degree. If you're leading a project and have the big picture about exactly where you want that project to go, you'll want certain things to be done in certain ways just because you know that will work better with what other people are doing or with the things you're planning to try in the future. As long as the micromanager can still keep track of the big picture and give his or her employees a feeling of being trusted, it's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't mind being micromanaged, provided that the person intruding in my work clearly knows the aspect of the work they're intruding in much better than me. It's great to learn from people who really know their stuff.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Nerdfest (867930)

        Unfortunately it's usually people who *think* they know their stuff that end up micromanaging. People that actually know their stuff end up contributing.

        • by hazah (807503)
          I donno. Often I find myself micronmanaging things like code formatting, and I'm not even the manager, just the lead developer. When it comes time to find the cracks at the seams I'm the only one available to see them, and it gets pretty wild if there's no consistency. It's a bit of a two way street. So I end up literally telling my colegue to do things a certain way to save ourselves from rediscovery.
          • by Nerdfest (867930)

            That's really just code review, although if you're down to the level of formatting, you're probably micro-managing. As long as the formatting is close to your conventions and readable, let it go. Variable and method naming, testing, decoupling, security and a pile of other things are far more important. A good IDE will put the code into your favourite format if you really need it to. Yeah, it would be nice if everybody else's code was as pretty as yours, but you got to have a little flexibility. You may e

            • by hazah (807503)
              When the consistency of their bracket placement is 4 tabs here and 2 spaces there, it really starts to bother me.. So I think that answers what side of that fence I'm on. It's largly due to lack of experience. CSS guy doing JS and PHP... sigh.
    • Re:Experts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @11:52PM (#45032655)

      1) Watch a select group of super famous people who were successful for a wide variety of reasons - including many that had nothing to do with them in particular.
      2) Latch on to something they do.
      3) Proclaim that as the source of all their success.
      4) Ignore any counter examples and in fact never look for them.
      5) Pretend you are not completely full of shit.

      Why of why oh fucking why do people keep doing this?!?!

      • Re:Experts (Score:5, Insightful)

        by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:24AM (#45033365) Homepage

        Actually, this sounds like a Tim Cook fluff piece, like someone is trying to make a subtle point about how Apple is going to be all good because it has Steve Cook, or Tim Jobs -- whatever -- just buy their stock and iPhones.

        • Actually, this sounds like a Tim Cook fluff piece, like someone is trying to make a subtle point about how Apple is going to be all good because it has Steve Cook, or Tim Jobs -- whatever -- just buy their stock and iPhones.

          Sour grapes.... It's kind of hard to argue with the success of the iPod/iPone/iPad series. Google with it's Android OS was only able to trump the market share of a single company by setting loose an entire hoard of Android licensees on Apple. If they had tried to go the same route as Apple and offer a single premium price GooglePhone competitor to the iPhone, Android would probably be a footnote today in mobile OS history today. You can peddle your sour grapes here as much as you want, it's still impressive

      • by lxs (131946)

        Congratulations! You've summed up Malcolm Gladwell's career in five easy to follow steps.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They haven't read The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb yet.

        When asking successful people what their key traits are, they hold up things like "hard working, social skills, network" etc.
        Yet - the graveyards are full of failures that possessed exactly those traits as well.

        So when you make two columns - one for winners and one for losers, and strike out the traits and properties that exist on both sides, you end up with one single thing that only exist on the winning side: luck.

        Luck can be manipulated though

        • Yeah...I don't buy that at all.

          I understand the mistake here though - humans are terrible at dealing with effects that have multiple and varied causes.

          It is easy to dismiss it as "luck". Certainly "luck" (i.e statistical probability - I hate the term luck) is a factor in anything humans do as a fundamental of the universe.

          But the traits"steve jobs" (or whatever super famous person you choose) became famous is not just luck. It is also a case of choosing the correct trait for the correct context.

          Each one has

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      The point here is that not all micromanaging is bad, and not all is good.

      And if you are the head of a company you should be aware of what's happening on the floor too. In large companies the awareness of day to day problems is also important because you may actually be able to figure out as a head manager that the organization structure is causing problems. What is good for one department may not be good for the company or the product that the company produces.

      Mid level management do have their specific int

  • by Pop69 (700500) <billy@UMLAUTbenarty.co.uk minus punct> on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:06PM (#45031501) Homepage
    You found possibly the only BBC site that isn't actually available in Britain
    • by Xest (935314)

      Coincidentally I was connected to a US based VPN last night and started browsing the web to the BBC without disconnecting first, so was presented with the US version of BBC.

      I stumbled across this exact article, but seriously, what the fuck. There was this BBC Capital thing that seemed to have way more interesting articles than the complete and utterly meaningless wank-drivel that we get given in the UK with the "BBC Magazine".

      I'm rather disgusted that they say "Sorry this isn't available in the UK because i

  • by xombo (628858)

    I'm doing it right.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      Maybe you are. If so you are in the tiny minority. I have worked for dozens of micromanagers in the last three and half decades and only one out of that entire group knew what the hell he was doing. The rest had no clue and were scared shitless and constantly changed their minds every day so that little ever got done. The one that did know almost made up for the idiots.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        All but one of my managers left me alone.
        Actually I only saw one of them less than a few hours for the first year I worked for him as I was in the other building. Very smart technical manager that knows his stuff. Sometimes it takes a few days to understand what he was talking about. I was told by others that if I was doing okay if I was still working for him.

        The one that micromanaged me gave up after a month as it was way too much work for him. I was doing all the odd jobs (small tasks) to keep the pro

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      There are good micro-managers and bad micro-managers. Being a micro-manager alone is not sufficient to be good at it.

      In fact, many successful companies have/had more generalist managers in charge.

      The article's point seems to be that micromanagement "done right" can be a good thing even though micromanagement has a bad reputation.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:09PM (#45031525) Homepage

    You can't really extrapolate from a handful of CEOs what a good management strategy is. Very, very few managers are CEOs, or ever will be.

    And is what's being described here even micromanagement? It's one thing to "micromanage" by insisting that your products meet your standards, it's another to insist on specific details like underlying technologies or what color the office chairs should be.

    On the flip side, there's certain aspects of the old "HP Way" that could be described as micromanagement. But I guess it would be toxic to even mention HP when you're talking about best practices in running a company these days.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:40PM (#45031705)

      The guy is totally wrong.
      Jobs didn't tell people how to do their work, he just made sure every detail was exacty what he wanted. Jobs was a detailed oriented prick, not a micromanager.

    • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:41PM (#45031719)

      You can't really extrapolate from a handful of CEOs what a good management strategy is. Very, very few managers are CEOs, or ever will be.

      And is what's being described here even micromanagement? It's one thing to "micromanage" by insisting that your products meet your standards, it's another to insist on specific details like underlying technologies or what color the office chairs should be.

      On the flip side, there's certain aspects of the old "HP Way" that could be described as micromanagement. But I guess it would be toxic to even mention HP when you're talking about best practices in running a company these days.

      I wouldn't call this "micromanagement". I'd call it "focussed management". The people in question determined what absolutely positively needed to be done right, studied their subject and homed in on it. They didn't second-guess paper-clip purchases, make idiot suggestions or otherwise do what makes micro-managing bad: interfering with people's work for trivial purposes.

      • "I wouldn't call this "micromanagement". I'd call it "focussed management". "

        Mod parent up (little problem with the spelling of "focused"). The great manager delegates the things that need to be delegated and focuses on the things she or he is best at, whether that's the company finances, the product design or simply motivating people to do their best. Even if Jobs "micro-managed" the iProduct line, I'm sure employees would have resigned en masse if his trademark attention to detail had been let loose on th

    • by mysidia (191772)

      it's another to insist on specific details like underlying technologies or what color the office chairs should be.

      Why do you think that's necessarily micromanagement?

      I'm sorry... but if I hire someone to handle the role of acquiring furniture... they are NOT going to be standardizing on fluorescent pink chairs for everyone's office.

      On the other hand... the colors of things, and architecture of office space are very important; they can effect worker productivity.

      I would emphasize making sure knowled

      • by Vaphell (1489021)

        they can affect worker productivity.

        ftfy
        It's amazing so many people have problem with these simple words. Here is how you can easily get it:
        affect/effect = input/output, and in both cases words are in alphabetical order!

        • by mysidia (191772)

          they can affect worker productivity.

          No. I said they can effect worker productivity, and that's what I meant.

          The right color can effect worker productivity [As in cause, or bring about], or the wrong color can hinder worker productivity [As in slow or prevent -- the opposite of effecting the result].

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Micromanagement the art of wasting your time and mine by paying me to do my job and insulting me by then doing it yourself.

      corporate Idiot me for for actually caring and not just taking the money and let you do it.

    • by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:26PM (#45031967)
      "You can't really extrapolate from a handful of CEOs what a good management strategy is."

      Why not? And what I mean by this, you can look at a handful of bad CEOs and often see what are bad management practices.

      History is just studying winners and losers, the environment they were in and how they overcame --- or were overcome -- by circumstances.

      The Apple story is particularly remarkable because Steve Jobs and the Woz made Apple --- Steve Jobs gets fired and wanders the wilderness for 10 years with NeXT and such --- then comes back to Apple and makes OS X, iPod, iPhone, iPad.

      Few people are 2 time winners. What would be typical is if Steve Jobs came back and then was found out to be a "has been".

      Studying individual success stories is "descriptive analysis" -- a field generally discarded by both statistics and science as "nonscience" -- but seeks to understand a particular circumstance that cannot be scientifically repeated nor statistically verified. But yet useful, like studying battles in WWII between Rommel and Patton.
      • by Xest (935314)

        I think more than anything the problem is ascribing to success too much of a weighting towards the power of achieving it being in your hands.

        Let's be honest, there are thousands of people that are equally talented and competent as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg et. al. but didn't achieve what they did for no other reason than they weren't born and brought up somewhere like Silicon Valley, or didn't have parents wealthy enough to send them to Harvard or have friends with access to VC funding. Even w

        • "I do not believe talent is all that rare, but I think great opportunities are."

          There is a ton of truth to that statement. At the same time, opportunities exist all around us. It is more about recognizing the environment, spotting opportunities and then developing an inspiring plan of action. Luck plays a part too.

          For example, Zuckerberg was not the only one capable of making Facebook. But he recognized the opportunity, saw the potential and acted with passion.

          There were probably thousands of peopl
    • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @10:18PM (#45032215) Homepage

      Except these aren't CEOs. These are entrepenuers. These are guys that founded companies. They aren't just some guy that came in later to babysit someone else's creation.

      These people actually built something.

      Labeling these people as CEOs is very misleading.

    • by Andrio (2580551)

      This is a case of correlation not equalling causation.

      Those successful CEOs mentioned micromanage, yes, but that is because they have a passion for their business. They want their company to succeed, and they actually care about the market and product they provide, rather than how their stock options look. Unlike, say, Elop who couldn't care less about Nokia or the mobile industry. It's not his passion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:15PM (#45031553)

    A micromanager who didn't know his stuff.

    http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&story=PC_Board_Esthetics.txt&characters=Steve%20Jobs&sortOrder=Sort%20by%20Date&detail=high&showcomments=1

    • Read "Machine Beauty" by Gelernter for why easthesics matters in technology.

      http://www.amazon.com/Machine-Beauty-Elegance-Technology-Masterminds/dp/046504316X [amazon.com]

      • But address bus loading was a problem on the drams you could get in the early 80s. He should have recommended extra buffering if they were so close to the edge that a little extra spacing would break it.

    • by GauteL (29207)

      To be fair. Jobs was 26 years old in 1981. He may have learnt something during the 15 years until he rejoined Apple. Perhaps this particular tale helped him be somewhat more sensible in his choices of what to stick his nose in? The story also demonstrates that he was also willing to be proven wrong, which he was, and they moved on from there.

    • Jobs wasn't wrong. If someone posts images of the PCB board of an iPhone 5, everybody will be interested in looking at it. At this period of time, showing a PCB board was just awesome. It looked like the future. Having a beautiful PCB could have been a strong communication point. Maybe Jobs didn't think about that and was just plain wrong at this time, but I'm not convinced the situation is so clear.
  • I prefer managers that are capable of allowing their subordinates to doing their job. A manager, IMHO, who has to be kept in the loop every step of the way indicates, to me, someone who has no confidence in themselves or their subordinates or is a total asshat to begin with and should not be a manager from the start.
    • It depends on the level of the manager. Those directing individual teams are there to ensure that the team is at its most productive. This typically means acting as a buffer between senior management, resources / procurement, and the team, ensuring that the senior management knows what is possible, the team knows what is required, and that the team has everything they need. For more senior positions, it's about determining the direction.

      Apple is a company with a relatively small number of products, wh

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you make your underlings do exactly what you tell them to in exactly the way you tell them, it is easier to prove they screwed up later as you already know how it was done.

  • Steve Jobs had a vision beyond metrics. He believed in something more then making a profit and pursued that dream. It is little things like that which get missed. 99.99% of all micromanagers have no vision beyond their own paycheck.
    • by OneAhead (1495535)

      Yeah, and 99.99% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

      I give you that a significant percentage of micromanagers don't know and don't care about much, but your 99.99% is way overestimated. The reason you have such a negative perception of micromanages is likely that micromanagement bruises people's egos, so they will complain about it even if the micromanager in question knows what they're doing and has a clear vision. Case in point, most sources say your St. Jobs was infuriating to work for. These kind

    • Re:A Vision (Score:4, Insightful)

      by epyT-R (613989) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:43PM (#45032017)

      The guy's dead.. the distortion field's gone.. why are you still acting this way?

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        Religions die hard.

      • by Raenex (947668)

        The guy's dead.. the distortion field's gone.. why are you still acting this way?

        You're asking this about somebody with the handle of "chr1st1anSoldier"?

  • Agreed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:32PM (#45031651)

    Being a manager for a small group of varied IT folk, I think the idea is right. If you could know the requested outcome, delegate it to the experts, keep basic track of the timeline, and be done, that would be awesome. But people are not slurm. Joe and Suzy aren't getting along so Suzy refuses to commit her changes. Bob is out sick. Tom's new and while a great Java programmer is still getting up to speed on the .net framework. John is awesome, but he's just one guy. So you're kind of needed to walk people through difficult phases, keep things on track, show enthusiasm for the project, lead by example (showing up on time, doing your share of the work, being positive, etc).

    Or you can just yell alot. Either way...

    • by jon3k (691256)
      I think it would be extremely difficult to be a manager by trade. It's one thing to come up through the ranks and be able to work side by side with your guys and gals, because you've earned their respect at this point. I feel bad for the PHB that get MBAs then try to walk in an run an IT department. That's gotta be tough.
  • He did delegate. Developers, developers, developers! Look how that worked out. One leaving, His Billness being questioned.
  • Like these [oobject.com]?

    I guess success like beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder.

  • or a asshole designer (of the frou-frou and eye candy sort) who knew how to sponge off others?

    asshole sponge

  • Reading the summary, it seems a mistake to turn Tim Cook as a CEO, while he would be an excellent COO...
  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:05PM (#45031857)

    If a micro-manager has less talent/intelligence/magic than his workers..he gets in the way and impedes progress

    If a micro-manager has a clear vision, and it's an inspired vision..you would be wise to follow him

    Example..Walt Disney

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:08PM (#45031875)

    1) Make controversial statement (Micromanaging is good!)
    2) Redefine your terms so that actually, it's not that controversial (Micromanagers "can't delve into the details of everything")
    3) Spam your headline around the place
    4) Profit

    • It's not even right.......This statement: " The modern executive is taught — in business schools and in many jobs — that to manage people effectively is to delegate, and then get out of the way" isn't even true. If it were, modern CEOs would be working 3 hour days.
  • by GrpA (691294) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:12PM (#45031885)

    You can tell me what to do, or how to do it, but not both... This is a lesson most micromanagers forget. The truth is that there is no such think as effective micromanagement. By it's very nature, the project that micromanagers run can never grow bigger than what can be achieved by a single person. They are limited entirely by that person's ability and intelligence, and people with either of those two attributes usually realize it well enough to leave micromanagement alone.

    Micromanagement, while sometimes necessary, is anything but effective. Any good manager will always realize this and will usually step out of the micromanagement role very shortly after taking it on.

    The exceptions to the rule are always companies where the intended outcome *is* for the company or project to never grow further than one person can manage it. Sometimes ( eg Apple ) - this is the desired outcome - to remain small and very narrow in focus. Generally, though, that goes counter to modern business principles.

    GrpA

    • by whoever57 (658626)
      What I hate is a micromanager who tells you to do X and then complains that you did not do Y. Yes, I have experienced this.
  • by xevioso (598654) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:23PM (#45031939)

    I have been reading quite a bit about WWII lately, something I do every few years as an amateur historian. The horrible evils of that war are too numerous to mention, it goes without saying, but from a purely historical point of view, I have lately been coming to the conclusion that Hitler was really a terrible micromanager when it came to war. I understand this view is shared by a lot of historians, but its the sort of conclusion you can come to yourself when you look at the decisions he made..

    Now, there was a point, during his rise to power, where he clearly was very good at consolidating his underlings and using his own ability to move crowds to get what he wanted over the long haul. Apparently, he had a tendency to give out completely contradictory or vague orders to underlings, and would leave it to them to work things out. It probably can be said that this worked at least to some effect in the first part of the war, because clearly the Whermacht had a lot of initial success.

    Which leads me to wonder if such a leadership style would have any place in a modern business environment; I wonder if any studies have been done on this?

    Anyways, he completely fucked up by being a micromanager towards the end of the war in an area he clearly was not an expert in, which was troop movements. For example, had he not micromanaged troop deployments on or around D-Day and left it up to his generals, D-Day probably would not have been a success. He did this repeatedly on the Eastern front, and it's pretty clear that one of the drawbacks of that style of utter top-down leadership style is that yoyu have to know what the fuck you are doing, and he didn't.

    And thank God for that, or else the world would have been a different place.

    • >The horrible evils of that war are too numerous to mention, it goes without saying,
      But you said it anyway.

      • by xevioso (598654)

        Yes, because had I not mentioned it people would have accused me of ignoring them. Just so you are aware, WWII was a Bad Thing.

        But micromanagement still played a part.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      Anyways, he completely fucked up by being a micromanager towards the end of the war in an area he clearly was not an expert in, which was troop movements. For example, had he not micromanaged troop deployments on or around D-Day and left it up to his generals, D-Day probably would not have been a success. He did this repeatedly on the Eastern front, and it's pretty clear that one of the drawbacks of that style of utter top-down leadership style is that yoyu have to know what the fuck you are doing, and he didn't.

      One of his biggest problems was that he fixated on things, to the point where his beliefs would override objective facts. For one thing, he was obsessed with new technology. The Tiger and King Tiger, the V-2, the Me 262, the Sturmgewehr, etc were all amazing improvements over traditional weapons, but the expense of production meant that resources were diverted to create limited numbers of these weapons when less advanced technologies were perfectly capable and cheaper to make. And on the Eastern front he

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:44PM (#45032027)
    What is described in the article is not micromanagement, it is knowing what the product should be and assuring it meets that goal.

    .
    Micromanagement occurs when your manager spends more time asking you detailed questions about your project than you spend actually working on the project. Micromanagement occurs when your manager really does not understand technically what you are doing, and thinks that he can look like he does by asking a lot of questions. Micromanagement is telling you how to do your job, not telling you what the goal of your job is.

    Micromanagement is not good for the person being "managed", the project, or the company.

    It needs to be banished, not praised.

  • I can show even more micromanager failures than the three successful which were listed. A few successful ones does not proof make. Sorry.

  • "that to manage people effectively is to delegate, and then get out of the way."

    This is a very good lesson to teach when, as in the case of most managers, they have no clue as to the subject at hand. It does not apply when the manager actually DOES have a decent amount of expertise in the field. For example you wouldn't want someone with a background only in management and dentistry to micromanage a group of turbine engineers. However switch that experience in dentistry to schooling/experience in high pr

  • by Copid (137416) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @10:22PM (#45032237)
    It's knowing and shaping what your company makes. That's great for a top boss, especially in a consumer products company where the boss should understand the product as well as anybody else. Sure, if you make surgical equipment and lasers and jet engines, the CEO has to delegate that stuff, but a company like Apple? Of course not. Micromanaging would be if Jobs was bugging people about how it was implemented and getting his hands all over the engineering process.

    I worked for a company where the CEO was not a tech guy, but he had a vision for the device we were supposed to make. He played with the prototypes constantly and shaped the final device. He knew the market he wanted to go for, and he made his vision happen. He was all over products and marketing and managing customers, but he delegated financial operations and the engineering process to experts. It was a big success, and a great place to work because we all felt like we knew what we were shooting for, and we knew where we fit as part of the overall big picture. We could all imagine what the company would be selling, we knew why it was going to be great, and none of us was surprised when we saw the final result. It was a blast.

    A few mergers and acquisitions later and we were part of a big operation. The CEO had no idea what we made or how it worked. In fact, you could go well down the management chain before you found anybody who had any opinion about what the company should be making. The CEO devoted himself to financial engineering and delegated "stuff the company does" to his underlings. We lasted about a year. It's very hard to be inspired by upper management when their "pep talk" is all about financials and nothing about the things your team makes and where they fit in the vision for the company.
  • Every manager I've had who's micromanaged me has believed that they were experts in the area. When they really knew what they were talking about, I didn't mind. My first boss was a software developer himself, and he's the guy who basically taught me how to program in the real world. He often did tell me how I should do my job, but since he was an expert on my job, he knew the right way for me to do my job.

    I've had other managers who believed that their position in management made them experts on my work,

  • Micromanagement is every bit as good as open space.

  • In one sentence it says "Steve Jobs was ... famously involved in designing the glass stairs at the Apple stores. "
    And then a sentence or two later it says "One key is that micromanagers must be experts."
    So Jobs was an expert on glass staircases?

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      He was 'magical' that way.
    • by Paul Carver (4555)

      No, he was an expert in knowing what a large number of people will think looks cool. I didn't buy anything while I was there, but when I was in the vicinity of the Apple store in NYC I certainly went inside to take a look around. The building itself is basically a work of art and the staircase is at least as much a part of the art as anything else.

      A staircase alone won't sell phones or computers, but Jobs didn't focus on just a staircase. He treated buildings as part of the Apple package. If you can't see

      • by mark_reh (2015546)

        My sarcastic critique was aimed squarely at the poor logic demonstrated by author of the original article, not Jobs.

        Perhaps you should examine your life to try to understand why you feel the need to defend Jobs whether he is being criticized or not...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All he did is get hipsters to overpay for smart phones and tablets, by making the interface idiot proof.

  • This is not micromanagement. It's being involved in design reviews.
  • by Ryanrule (1657199)

    micromanage the managers, not the people who do the actual work.

  • by eennaarbrak (1089393) on Friday October 04, 2013 @02:41AM (#45033255)
    Ah, just another insight into the wonderful word of management theory. I wonder if the esteemed people who concern themselves with the knowledge of what it takes to run a successful company will ever just admit to themselves that perhaps this about as useful as trying to understand a winning strategy of casino slots?
  • Agile is the perfect platform for establishing micromanagement. Break your tasks down into really small pieces, keep daily tabs on progress, make the team responsible for delivering it. They used to call them 'daily progress meetings' when a project had got on the deathmarch and now they just call them 'standups'.
  • This is just having it both ways. Steve Jobs does the stairs, while Tim Cook does the finances. Is that delegating or micromanagement? To anyone with common sense, it's both.

    More common sense, dressed up as management lessons: you need to know what you're doing, and a large business is too big for you to do everything. No kidding, I always wondered why Amazon actually has more than one employee.

  • "Finally, it takes a strong, trusted team to be a micromanager. Could Steve Jobs have spent weeks with the iPhone design team if there was no one else to mind the store?"

    You know what this piece made me think? It made me think that micromanaging wasn't what made these guys successful. No, I'm thinking that it was having good/great people behind them that made them into such successes. In my experience micromanaging needs to have the right leader for the right team to work. If one of those two are wrong

  • Because I don't know about you but there's nothing better than being nanomanaged by someone who can't even be happy with anything you do especially if it's to the tiniest detail the exact thing they demanded on the 50th revision of the thing they told you to do but endlessly tweaked and corrected.

    Yeah that's the shit. That's great. I tell you it's even better when the nanomanager has OCD so they constantly go over and over and over and over and over the same things the same way making an infinitesimal chang

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