Are Managers Web 1.0?

I’ve been having a debate with a friend of mine about whether Managers are Web 1.0, holding on to their top down approach of planning, controlling, leading, and organising, but become less important over time.

His argument is yes, people only need leading and planning when they cannot do this for themselves, and control of people is dead. I mentioned the idea of people in the future coming together into temporary virtual tribes that temporarily work on a peice of temporary work, and then disband and recombinate into new tribes for a new peice of work. He thought that this was a good predictor of the future.

I’m sorry, I don’t fully agree with this. There seems to be this myth that people will get together in any way shape or form to achieve a certain body of work. This is clearly demonstrated with the success of linux, where multiple disparate groups of people come together to make software.

Unfortunately, without this management function, you generally get poor results. People have a tendency to focus on the itch that’s important to themselves, which may be coding a particular feature they need. But when it comes to doing things like write documentation, or add features that they personally don’t require, they really can’t be bothered. And hence, those people leave the group, and new people join the group. And new people are dissatisfied because the lack of documentation doesn’t show how descisions were made, and why certain features are the way they are, and how the program interacts with other programs, and eventually you get the falicy of choice, combined with poor software.

A manager is vitally important to look at the bigger picture. Do we really need 9 sub systems for Audio within Linux? Could we instead ditch the notion that we could make a better audio sub system than anyone else, and instead build off the work of others in a collaborative method? Are we looking at the bigger picture and thinking about why we’re doing all of this and for who? Do we really care about the customers, or do we just really care about our own desires and needs.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the open source model, but I still see the need for managers in a web 2.0 world.