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Richard J Badham Professor of Management email [email protected] . The Ironic Manager AMBITION IS THE LAST REFUGE OF THE FAILURE Oscar Wilde

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  • Richard J BadhamProfessor of Management

    email [email protected] .

    The Ironic Manager

    AMBITION IS THE LAST REFUGE OF THE FAILURE Oscar Wilde

  • www.ironicmanager.com

  • Formal Organizations: taking it out! Organisational Esperanto and Emotional

    Lobotomy Organisational Schizophrenia and Manic

    Depression

    Greedy Institutions: forcing it back in! McManagement and emotional

    engineering Branding and the Expressive

    Organisation

    THE CONTEXT

    Desperately seeking Enterprise andEngagement yet.

  • The IRONIC MANAGERis one who:

    sees the organisationalworld for what it is,

    learns to performeffectively within it, &

    finds meaning in thisstate of affairs.

    (S)he is the consummateplayer, but a seriousplayer .

    The DELUDED MANAGERis one who:

    misunderstands andmisrepresents theorganisational world,

    performs ineffectively,and, ultimately,

    fails to find meaning inthis state of affairs.

    (S)he is the consummatedupe, whether serious orflippant.

    THE IRONIC MANAGER

  • Most men would die rather than think. Many do. Bertrand Russell

    THINKING!

    The unexamined life is not worth living for man. Socrates

  • THE INSTITUTIONAL IMPERATIVE In business school I was given no hint of the imperatives

    existence and I did not intuitively understand it when Ientered the business world. I thought then that decent,intelligent, and experienced managers would automaticallymake rational business decisions. But I learned over timethat isnt so. Instead, rationality frequently wilts when theinstitutional imperative comes into play. (Warren Buffet, 1989)

    THE INSTRUMENTAL FALLACY Someone who is a victim, or an example, of the

    instrumental attitude to management sees the people underhim as the instruments with which he has to carry out hisjob, to execute his plans. Each has a separate role,perhaps a separate skill, and it his his job as manager touse it as a good carpenter uses his saw and chisel andplane and drill to turn the idea in his head into a final result.In the same way he sees himself as one of the instrumentsof his superior manager, being applied to the larger task ashe applies his subordinate to the smaller one.(Anthony Jay, 1971: 32-33)

    THE DELUDED MANAGER

  • The religion of rationality

    The irrationality of rationality

    The revenge of the non-rational

    THE DELUDED MANAGER

  • Situational irony A condition of affairs or events of a

    character opposite to what was, ormight naturally be, expected. Acontradictory outcome of events asif in mockery of the promise andfitness of things.

    (Oxford English Dictionary, 1979: 484)

    THE IRONIC GAZE: viewing or perceiving

    .one who sees the world for what it is!

  • Expecting the unexpected

    Coping with unintended consequences

    Wrestling with paradox

    THE IRONIC GAZE

  • The test of a first-rate intelligence isthe ability to hold two opposed ideasin mind at the same time and stillretain the ability to functionF Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack Up, 1936

    The person who cant ride twohorses doesnt deserve to be in thebloody circusFormer TU leader

    THE IRONIC GAZE: Janusian Thinking

  • THE IRONIC PERFORMANCE: acting or practicing

    Verbal irony A figure of speech in which the intended

    meaning is the opposite of thatexpressed by the words used; usuallytaking the form of sarcasm or ridicule inwhich the laudatory expressions are usedto imply condemnation or contempt.

    Socratic irony Dissimulation, pretence; esp. in

    reference to the dissimulation ofignorance practiced by Socrates as ameans of confuting an adversary.

    (Oxford English Dictionary, 1979: 483/4)

    one who can perform effectively in the world!

  • Leadership and rhetoric Irony and community a virtuoso

    performance beyond cheerful robots and

    dragons of despair

    Communication with multipleaudiences the Wink or I can heartily

    recommend the Gestapo to anyone(Freud)

    THE IRONIC PERFORMANCE

  • A disposition, character or philosophicstance towards the world (an ironist).

    An observer of situational irony, and adeployer of verbal and Socratic irony.

    Variously viewed as humane andliberal or negative and cynical.

    For some, it is an engaged ethos, adisciplined (tempered) grappling withpractical uncertainty and metaphysicaldoubt.

    For others, it is a form of radicalnegativity or disengagement, ridiculingall beliefs and values.

    THE IRONIC TEMPER: living or meaning

    .and finds meaning in this state of affairs!

  • the sweet spot between arrogance anddespair

    (Kanter, Rosabeth Moss, 2005, Confidence, p.13)

    Beyond the yellow brick road of naiveteand the muggers lane of cynicism, there isa narrow path, poorly lit, hard to find, andeven harder to stay on once found. Peoplewho have the skill and perseverance totake that path serve us in countless ways.We need more of these people. Manymore.

    (Kotter, John, 1985, Power and Influence, p.xx)

    THE IRONIC TEMPER

  • Circuses: Principled infidelity and the

    sergeant major ethos

    Bread: High velocity leadership on the

    edge of chaos Mediators in a plural world

    THE CONTEXT: Bread and Circuses

  • Thinking things through wrestling with ambiguity and

    paradox

    Feeling things through coping with ambivalence and

    uncertainty

    Acting things through winning a contact sport

    CONCLUSION: SEEING THINGS THROUGH