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Management Metaphors (Military, sport, cartoon)

Military metaphors used to be big in management. Command and control, etc.

I prefer the sports metaphor. The owner dishes out the money and overall objective. The coach decides the strategy and personel. The captain deals with the tactical situation second by second.

Some companies have the cartoon physics metaphor. The boss whacks the middle manager and the middle manager sticks dynamite in your pocket and everyone laughs.

In software, some like the 'Hollywood' metaphor where someone is the star with lots of acolytes and people-who-do-chores. Management are producers who collect stars into productions, etc. (Note: IMHO most companies on this model produce the software equivalent of 'Rita does Reading')

Anyone else have a better metaphor?

Is business important enough to have its own organisational metaphor these days?

Woodentongue
Monday, March 22, 2004

I don't know that the question is placed correctly.  Metaphors are best used to explore one's own understanding of a certain topic; they aren't applied merely for applying.  Any topic can also have almost any metaphor applied to it.  Some work better than others, but the same goal still exists; exploring your own understanding of some issue.

Elephant
Monday, March 22, 2004

How about the

"Doo Doo runs downhill" metaphor?

apw
Monday, March 22, 2004

Mconnel goes through a list of them in Rapid Devleopment.  I can definatly see the "surgical team" (almost the same as your hollywood definition), where one of the more advanced coders writes the hardest stuff, and there are 2 or 3 guys supporting him by doing user interface design, refining his implementations, helping with bug tests/fixes, and other less complex stuff. 

Overall, I think the baseball analogy is the best.  Sure, the third basemen has his specialty, and isn't as good as playing in the outfield, but everyone knows the essentials, and *could* play every other position, just not as well.  And, *everyone* on the tam has to good at "batting", (which I would liken to bug fixing)

vince
Monday, March 22, 2004

Not to get too OT, but the Hollywood metaphor reminds me of a concern I've been feeling of late regarding the direction Open Source software is going (and possibly taking non-OSS models with it?) with regard to job opportunities.  Except that in my metaphor it's the music industry, and there are only a handful of rock stars who actually get to do what they love for a living.  They are a tiny, tiny percentage of the hordes of willing musicians who are pouring their blood, sweat and tears everyday into being able to play, record and tour at their own expense.  The industry itself reflects this from the inside as well -- estimates claim that of the acts on any given major label, the profits of 15% carry the remaining unprofitable 85%.  In OSS I see a handful of "rock stars" who work for Red Hat, Ximian / Novell, etc.  I wouldn't count the employees of corporations who use / support OSS (like IBM), as their bread and butter is not the strictly the fruit of the OSS revenue model.  Furthermore, in contrast to the thousands (?) of open source projects I would have to geuss that only a small percentage (comparable to the 15% figure from the music biz?) reliably generate revenue from the OSS model itself -- MySQL and Red Hat again come to mind.  Meanwhile, 90% of what makes up sourceforge are labor-of-love types like the garage bands pouring it out in every city in America.

Is this metaphor acurate for OSS?  Will this tendency permeate the software industry to the point that all software jobs end up in the rock star category?

MacSqueeb
Monday, March 22, 2004

Another metaphor is the publishing industry which, as Greenspun points out, exists to pay the salaries of people who work at publishing companies, rather than to pay the writers.

Thus the publishing industry consists of large staffs, a few highly paid senior executives and an army of lowly paid, struggling writers, most of whom are either struggling or have other jobs to pay the bills.

Open source is pushing software towards the same future, and needlessly so. Open source benefits all the peripheral players while disadvantaging the creators. Commercial software allows the creators to collect the revenue.

.
Monday, March 22, 2004

Change benefits everyone except those unwilling to adapt.

Eric Debois
Monday, March 22, 2004

Yeah, World War II and 11 September were so beneficial to so many people.


Monday, March 22, 2004

Elluk voordeel heb zun nadeel.

You figure it out...

Erik
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

"""Commercial software allows the creators to collect the revenue."""

Bull.  Businesspeople are still the ones who rake in the bucks.

Phillip J. Eby
Tuesday, March 23, 2004

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