Why Command And Control Is So Bad

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —January 14, 2007
Filed in Strategy

Bruce Nussbaum over at BusinessWeek Online has written a short piece entitled: Lessons From Home Depot’s Bob Nardelli—Why Command And Control Is So Bad.

Autocratic top-down, command and control works great when you focus on process—cost and quality. Six Sigma measures all that stuff wonderfully.

The truth is that in the new global business culture, process controls and metrics are critical to any big company but they are now sediment, one of the things that is commoditized and laid down on the corporate structure to make way for the discipline and process of innovation.


It’s good to see commentators starting to reflect the need for leaders and managers to look beyond what can be easily measured and controlled. Sadly, most commentators, leaders or managers are still attempting to use the tools developed for command and control (such as six sigma and balanced scorecard) to address complex issues such as culture, customer service, sales, leadership and innovation. Warning, here comes some flagrant self promotion. You might think that it’s only fringe organisations that might use techniques like business narrative, most significant change, and complexity-based thinking. Not so. Here are some of the clients we have done projects for and many are global businesses.

  • BHP Billiton
  • Rio Tinto
  • ANZ Bank
  • National Australia Bank
  • Australian Army
  • AstraZeneca
  • IBM
  • The Treasury
  • DSTO

[via Bob Sutton]

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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