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Today I read an interview (link in Hebrew) with Prof. Beni Lauterbach – Head of Business Administration School at Bar-Ilan University. In it, Lauterbach claims that business administration departments in universities are much more important than the physics, chemistry and engineering departments. Why? Because a good manager can add more value than an engineer. Lauterbach claims that as a former engineer he knows that for a fact.
I almost fell of my chair when I read this. I am, as readers of the blog know well, a big supportive of the idea that great managers are important value creators. More than that, I actually believe that in the coming years, the importance of managers as facilitators of innovation through diversity will increase. However, Lauterbach approach is in my eyes, a manifestation of everything that is wrong with management today.
The idea that there is one person or occupation that is more important than others is the problem of many of the current management practices. Mostly, the work of a manager is to create synergy. In this respect, synergy is about creating greater value from a group of people than they could produce alone. And in this process, every person is important because without each and every one, synergy is not possible. Lauterbach approach is rotted in the myth of leadership, where we look to one leader to solve all of our problems and believe that salvation will come out of one individual. Maybe this worked in the past. It will not work in the future. The future is about diversity, synergy and collaboration. In this kind of environment, nobody is more important. Not that everybody is equal. Everybody is unique and contributes differently and an excelling organization enables and leverages that uniqueness.
Let’s stop fighting over who is more important and start collaborating to create a better future.
And by the way, all of the above is said without regard to the question whether business administration departments actually produce managers (not to mention, good ones). I am not quite sure.