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Simple Is Hard, Complex Is Easy, Simplistic Is Impossible
The simple truth is that management practices today are either too complex or too simplistic, says Quick in this excerpt from his latest book.
"Over here," Fritz Roethlisberger used to say, referring to the Harvard Business School where he taught, "we make complex things easy; over there," pointing to the main Harvard campus on the other side of the Charles River, "they make simple things complex."
Roethlisberger, a member of Elton Mayo's team at Hawthorne and a pioneer in the field of organizational behavior, followed his own guidelines. His work is eminently readable and admirably straightforward. But maybe he pared down his prose too much. These days, who reads Fritz Roethlisberger? How many people know who he was?
In management today, we seem, for some mysterious reason, to tend toward the complex or the simplistic. Simple is mistrusted--suspect. Take my field of motivation. From my surveys, I've concluded that most management training in employee motivation and productivity uses either Maslow or Herzberg as its theory base.
Most people are familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. From the lowest need, which is physiological, a person moves up the hierarchy to satisfy safety needs, then on to those related to belongingness and love, and then to esteem, until finally he or she is working to fill a growth need, self-actualization. Maslow says that a person feels a particular need only when the needs lower in the hierarchy are predominantly satisfied. Thus, a person probably won't seek the esteem of others until he or she has satisfied the yearning for belongingness and love.
I personally doubt that is true, and experimental projects to validate the hierarcy have been inconclusive. I've never been able to explain to managers how to recognize which need an employee might be working on at a given time. And I'm not at all sure what constitutes a need predominantly satisfied. Maslow is complicated.
Frederick Herzberg's two-factor theory also is complicated. There are ambiguities such as the role of salary. He says it is …