Management Rewired Reviewed: Chapters 3&4

In Chapter 3 Jacobs begins to address relationships.  First the idea Jacobs develops, that each person experiences their own version of reality.  It is close to the theory of mind.  We can’t understand how a person behaves until we have some conception of what their thinking.  In general, trying to manage relationship can become very complex.  It does not lend itself to a proscriptive approach and Jacobs acknowledges this.  The emotional IQ people have a good handle on the complex process of reading and responding to others.

Where Jacobs analysis picks up is when he begins to look at how a theory of mind changes our base behavioral expectations regarding reward, punishment, how they are often used to manipulate behavior, and how the results of manipulation are often counter intuitive.  Behavioral science made one fatal error.  They considered the mind an epi-phenomena, when the mind proved to be the central point when trying to understanding human behavior.

In chapter 4 Jacobs offers a proscriptive approach that seems appropriate in a broad sense: switch from an Aristotelian approach to a Socratic one.

Rather than tell an employee what to do and create all the negative relationship dynamics, the manager needs to ask . . . ask the employee to set (objectives). . .ask them how they think they are doing . . . it turns the relationship upside down.  As the prime mover of the organization, the employee now calls the shots and the manger is in a supportive role.

I believe there is an important role for Jacobs here.  This Socratic role is consistent with suggestions by other management thinkers, but what Jacobs does is associate these approaches with current social science.  Management is a branch of the social sciences, but there were not good linkages between management theory and current directions in the social sciences.  Jacobs provides a rationale for making these linkages explicit.

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