If, as his flatterers insist, George W. Bush’s Presidential style is that of a corporate CEO, it seems to me that the firm is in desperate need of a shareholder revolt. Putting aside the moment my view that most of the things he wants to accomplish are evil, it’s pretty clear that the place simply isn’t being very well manged right now.
There’s a book by an actual, and quite successful CEO — High Output Management, by Andrew Grove of Intel’s glory days — that gives at least one hint of the cause of the massive incompetence that has led to such misterable failure. Grove discusses the central importance of delegation: letting other people actually make decisions. (That’s the lesson that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton never adequately learned.)
But Grove defines “delegation” to mean assignment of authority and monitoring of process and results. “Delegation without monitoring,” says Grove, is abdication.”
Abdication is delegation for the lazy. I know; I practice it myself. Sometimes the results are spectacular, and sometimes they’re spectacu-lousy. That’s one of the many reasons I wouldn’t hire me to run a hot-dog stand.
So when the President tries to weasel out of responsibility for the torture of prisoners by saying he never read the memos, he’s describing not delegation but abdication.
Hey, I hear there’s a shareholder meeting coming up in November.