I wonder if “managerial stupidity” is column 6, ie a manifestation of something else, or is it the cause of the problems I see i.e, it is column 1 (I am using Adizes theory lingo here for the uninitiated).

Here is what got me upset:

British Airways claims to have a first class frequent travelers reward system. I flew with them for years. I have over 750,000 miles credit with them. And I am a very valuable client. I fly first class.

Now, try to get a reward from BA. Useless. You have to spend hours waiting on the line to get someone to talk to and then the seats are not available on FT credit. And if they are available, it is not on the dates you want to fly. And if it is available on the dates you want to fly, you have to fly via Timbuktu and wait there for a connection for a day or two.

I gave up. Stopped flying British Airways. Still have unused FT points somewhere.

Moved to fly Lufthansa. Thought these Germans are good for their word. Promise is a promise. Got to the level of Senator (I fly a lot) . Lufthansa promised a whole slate of benefits. Almost a red carpet service.

Try to get a free ticket.
I tried. Same lousy response I got from BA.

How about Avis. Their slogan: “We try harder.”

Do they? Can management promise this and deliver it world wide?
I remember getting a lousy service from a customer service person. Behind her on the wall was a big sign: “ We try harder.”

Does management believe that through advertising, through making promises they can get us to buy and commit to their services? Or is it the actual service, even if not advertised, that makes the difference?

The best way to lose a customer for ever, is to overpromise and underdeliver.  It is common sense.

I am standing in line to board a plane to Moscow. The line says priority lane for first class.

I noticed my line is almost as long if not longer than the line for economy.

What is going on?

Well my lane is not only for first class. It is for business class too. And for those with priority benefits from frequent travelers and those that have a credit card from the airline and…who knows who else.

What is going on here?

Why is it happening?

One reason could be that the marketing department is not “connected “ with the operations department. Those that promise have little if anything to do with those that deliver what is promised.

Probably whoever was in charge of promoting the credit card thought it was a good idea to give the card holders the benefit of priority boarding and did not consult those who are in charge of first class benefits.

In other words, DISINTEGRATION.

And this conclusion should not come as a surprise. At present, companies are very large and the task of managing them, coordinating all activities promotions etc. is too much to ask from any top manager, leader, executive to do. Can not be done.

What is needed is group diagnosis of problems and open forums where problems are discussed and dealt with. (Look forward to my forthcoming book: Collaborative Problem Solving, or look for the services Adizes Institute provides to make such forums value adding).

But maybe there is column 1 here in play: management simply lost common sense. They rely on marketing gimmicks to produce results forgetting common sense that real service works, not marketing  gimmicks.

Management is detached from the field. Is isolated in some ivory towers, executive offices, on the fortieth floor somewhere, reviewing tables and charts as if reviewing of charts is the essence of their work rather than the service and quality of the products they provide.

When was the last time your CEO has called his or her own company and tried to buy something anonymously or with a different identity? There is much to learn from being a customer.

The biggest asset a manager can have in the complex world we live is COMMON SENSE.

My suspicion is that managers in the West have lost common sense.  May be Ivan Ilich was right. Education today is over educating to the point that people lose COMMON SENSE. Or maybe they watched too much television when they were growing up. Or too much weed smoking in college. Whatever it is, I sometimes scratch my head: where has all the common sense gone?

You can see it not only in management but in politics where this phenomena of no common sense has much more ominous manifestations. It calls not for a blog but for a book.

Wish you well,

Ichak Kalderon Adizes