"You are Your Position" LO5907

Thu, 29 Feb 1996 07:13:00 -0500

Replying to LO5888 --

Eric said:

>I have invested considerable time and effort in leadership
>development and communications skills development, but I keep running into
>"You have a Ph.D. in Physics, therefore you belong in a position of doing
>scientific analysis. Forget marketing or management...." Read between the
>lines: "You are inept at these other skills (marketing management etc.),
>because technical people are in general inept at these skills." I.E. "You
>are your Resume."

If you study the employment ads in major U. S. newspapers, you will
probably conclude that companies feel that only people who have already
failed in a given narrow area are the ones whom they will consider for new
appointments in that area.

What you are seeing goes back to the remarkable institution known as the
"business school". Here people believe in very simplistic ideas,
carefully stated, to preserve everything that already exists, except the
personnel in the company.

I know of an individual who has managed in three major companies, two of
which he served as President of the company, and both of which were nearly
destroyed by this person. He lasted for many years with the first
company, then became President of the second company, where he lasted
about seven years, then went as President to the third company, where he
only lasted two years. In this last job, the company had the first losing
year in its history. Hopefully we are seeing a decaying exponential here,
in light of how many people were damaged by what went on.

Some years ago an MBA took over Zenith, and one of the first things he did
was to fire the people in the research lab, because it was a "cost
center". My former colleague at the University of Virginia, who taught in
both the engineering and business schools, and who had been president of
Univac and v.p. at G. E., told me that one of his former students
telephoned him one day to thank him for teaching, in his business school
class, about why research was important in technology-oriented firms. The
student told him that his class was the only one that ever dealt with the
subject and, if he had not learned that there, he would probably have
demolished the research operations.

In Judge Greene's famous court decision, in which AT&T was relieved of its
status, the Bell Telephone Laboratories (to which, I believe the vast
majority of current hi-tech enterprise can be traced) which was then the
top research organization in the world in electronics was started on a
long path away from what made it great.

Such are the perils of life when the "professions" do not understand
professionalism, and when the universities propagate myopia as a universal
fact of life.

You are not your position, you are what false images of your position
represent as a result of myopic educational experiences.


John N. Warfield Johnwfield@aol.com

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>