The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Management Is Directing, Not Dictating …

One of the things that really shook me working in the US was how hierarchal it was.

Of course I appreciate not all companies are like this, but in my experience, there were a huge amount who were.

Where the person with the highest title won.

Regardless how right – or wrong – they were.

And what this led to was a bunch of talented people opting for the easier life.

Where they did what the most important person in the room wanted, because ultimately it meant they would have less stress and could go home on time.

Or realised their career growth was about managing up rather than being great.

I don’t blame them – especially those who had families to feed – I just found it sad and alien.

Sad … because I saw incredibly talented people being restrained and restricted.

Alien … because I had been brought up to see management as enabling people to make the best work of their life.

Directing rather than dictating.

Creating the time, space and energy to let your team craft the work not focus on the politics.

But in America, this didn’t seem to be the case … it felt it was much more about following orders rather than solving the challenge in the most interesting and exciting of ways.

I kind-of wrote about this before, but the reason I’m saying it now is because I recently read a book that reminded me of some of the things I saw and – to a degree – experienced.

A book that reinforced why I will always love Wieden – and now R/GA – because they were founded by individuals who value creativity rather than devaluing age.

The book I’m talking about is called “Disrupted: Ludicrous Misadventures in the Tech Start-up Bubble” and was written by ex-Newsweek journalist Dan Lyons.

It’s a humorous tale of his experience working for the tech/marketing company Hubspot and – without giving anything away – it’s a total shitshow.

There’s a bunch of reasons for it … but as I read the book, I couldn’t help feel that many of them were because of this hierarchal practice that I saw in America.

It’s definitely a book worth reading because apart from just being enjoyable, it is super informative in how Silicon Valley works.

Even more specifically, how the finance of Silicon Valley works.

But if that doesn’t tempt you, then maybe this will.

You see Dan Lyons – the author – was a hardcore, tech journalist and yet when he joined Hubspot, he found himself in the marketing department. After experiencing the industry first hand, this is what he had to say about the conferences we love to go to and talk at …

“Marketing conferences are filled with wannabe gurus and ‘thought leaders’ who work themselves up into a revival-show lather about connecting with customers and engaging in holistic, heart-based marketing … which sounds like something I made up but is actually a real thing that really exists and is taken seriously by actual adult human beings, which makes me want to cry.”






Ordered. I think you have just idenified what I’m going to buy my colleagues this Christmas.

Comment by George

Careful George, it sounds like it could also be the perfect book to announce your resignation.

Comment by Pete

An important watch out.

Comment by George

I agree with Pete. Be careful who you give it to, it could offend as much as enlighten. Ha.

Comment by Rob

the happy clapping nerd fucks wouldnt know an insult unless it was some coding bollocks in html. whatever the fuck that means.

Comment by andy@cynic

This may be the first review of a book that has made it truly compelling for me to get. Thanks Rob, I’m looking forward to this.

Comment by Pete

Tell me what you think when you’ve read it.

Comment by Rob

Less pissy than your post yesterday but I like it. Meeting more and more people who feel their company undermines and devalues their experience and role. Maybe this book is the perfect antidote for them.

Comment by Bazza

Funny you should say that. I feel the same way too. I’m writing about it as I believe there is a real issue going on in companies as regards employee mangaement. More control and power than letting people grow and develop – which is why I am also seeing too many talented people at a point of depression. It happened to me once too. It is potentially the greatest threat to people and companies and not exaggerating at all.

Comment by Rob

we need to talk about this one day campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

An excellent post Robert. I have ordered the book and I am very much looking forward to reading about the madness of marketing through a pair of innocent, but intelligent, eyes.

Comment by Lee Hill

His assessment isn’t harsh – most people haven’t got a clue about marketing, marketing people doubly so..

Comment by John

Well said John.

Comment by Lee Hill

And marketing people certainly haven’t a clue about people……

Comment by Northern

It’s ironic that we non-Americans have an image of that culture being more of an open-minded meritocracy and therefore less structurally rigid than in other cultures. However, once we are inside, we realise that they seem to have a natural tendency for command-and-control. I’ve also seen how US diplomacy is carried out in the flesh, and it’s consistent in the sense that there is really no empathetic engagement, just a series of demands. It turns them into tunnel-visioned robots.

The book sounds a good read. Thanks for the recommendation.

Comment by Chikashi

Tunnel visited robots is my phrase of the day.

Comment by DH

you know campbell probably is getting a cut of all this shit dont you? why are you all so fucking naive?

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s why I ordered it from the library.

Comment by John

Very glad libraries still exist where you live

Comment by Northern

he lives in it.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m hoping your memories of working in America are better than my memories of media arts
we could swap notes if our paths ever cross

Comment by Northern

You should put how long you’ve avoided Rob on your resume. It’s impressive.

Comment by DH

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