Magazine article Management Today

Management's Next Phrase

Magazine article Management Today

Management's Next Phrase

Article excerpt

Yesterday they managed by objectives, today they spend their time going round in quality circles. The question that everyone wants answered is what are Britain's top executives going to be up to next?

Tomorrow morning the answer to this question will almost certainly be 'empowerment'. It is one of those wonderful words that flies in from the States and, although suffering from jet lag and culture shock, gets right down to business. 'You've got problems,' says the bright boy from abroad, 'and I've got the solutions--your employees. Your employees are the only people with the capability to fix your problems, so why not give them the authority to get on with the job?' And so the morning memo goes out that employees are to be 'empowered'.

But what about tomorrow afternoon, when a couple of British beers have hit the system and suddenly the early energy, drive and promise that are synonymous with 'empowerment' begin to fade and lose their thrall. By tomorrow afternoon Britain's top executives are quite likely to find themselves thinking about other foreign notions, such as hatinafsi, mokita, biga peula and farpotshket. Although unfamiliar words as yet, each conveys an idea whose time has almost come.

Hatinafsi is a Swahili word used 'of a person taking an action without consulting anybody because he thinks they may try to persuade him not to do it'. Although they do not (yet) call it hatinafsi, most chief executives already spend a good deal of their time worrying about employees who are taking action without consulting them because they know that they shouldn't really be doing it.

It was hatinafsi, and the excess zeal of some of Lord King's merry band of marketing men that resulted in British Airways' disastrous dirty tricks campaign against Virgin Atlantic which landed the world's favourite airline with just about the world's worst publicity. …

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