Monday, November 5, 2001

Poetry in Management?

The main emphasis of most history books is on leaders who left their mark in the times and places they lived in (and beyond).

There are very few references to their close associates and ever fewer to the mass of their "executives". Yet these people contributed significantly, directly or indirectly to important events. Imagine for example the making of the pyramids.

To-date, the corporate world has received relatively little attention by most historians. Maybe this is due to the fact that the History of the Corporation is still relatively short.

In books and movies, the business and corporate world has been utilised primarily as a background for the deployment of a plot. In most cases, the plot centers around non-business issues. This can be attributed to a perception that business issues are too complicated for the general (mass) audiences to understand, compared, for example, to detective or police work, or legal plots.

As a result, it is not surprising that, in many cases, in these media, the "part" of the Marketer, the Financier, the PR executive, or the Personnel Manager are relatively simplistic, compared to the reality.

As for the CEO's, they are usually the "bad guys" of the story.
"I wanted to become a poet, but I wound up a businessman". These lyrics (freely translated), are from a very well known Francophone song.

They imply that being a businessman is a much inferior creative alternative to being an artist, a poet. But is that necessarily true?

Many businessmen, managers and executives can claim that the content of their work is much more interesting and creative than it is often portrayed. Procedural - boring work is performed by artists too. No profession or other activity, goes without procedural or boring parts.

The correlation between the interest and the glamour "value" of a job and its remuneration level is a very complicated one. Few professions combine glamour, interesting content and high remuneration. On the other hand, unattractive jobs do not usually carry a salary premium.
Sports commentators apply metaphors such as "poetry", "art", "ballet", "inspired", etc. to describe impressive moves made by athletes.

Nowadays more vision, creativity, flair, and "poetry" is needed in managing, at all levels. But many "poetic" actions by managers go unnoticed.