Mushroom management

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Mushroom management, also known as Pseudo-Analysis or Blind Development, is a term used to mockingly refer to a way of running a company where the communication channels between the managers and the employees do not work properly.[1] The term also describes a learning technique that encourages children to be more curious about the topics discussed at school.[2]

Description[edit]

A style of management where the personnel is not familiar with the ideas or the state of the company and is given load of work without knowing its purpose. The managers treat their staff as “mushrooms”, in a way that they are “kept in the dark and fertilized”.[3] The opposite is open-book management. Curiosity and self-expression of workers is not supported and employees often have no idea what the situation of the company is. Leaders tend to make all decisions on their own and without asking for anybody´s opinion first.[4] This problem can occur when the manager does not understand the work of their employees, e.g. programmers, and therefore cannot communicate effectively.[5]

However, mushroom management can be found in environments other than business.

Mushroom management and group projects at school[edit]

Students tend to not share information among each other inside the team in order to appear more informed when being assessed.[6]

Why does this happen?[edit]

The main reason for this kind of philosophy to be applied in a company is that the managers fail their main purpose – to manage. They do not see themselves as someone leading others towards bigger success for everyone, but rather someone who knows everything and the ones below them are just a herd of sheep following blindly. Often unintentionally, the fear of their employees coming up with great new ideas instead of them drives them to make bad decisions, excluding workers from everything except for the actual work. As a result, the employees end up doing loads of work they were given just to do something and not contributing in any other way.[7]

Benefits[edit]

When talking about blind development, the key feature is that employees do not have almost any responsibility whatsoever, meaning that their lives are way easier. The amount of decisions they have to make is minimal, which reduces stress in the workplace.[8]

Consequences[edit]

Consequences of mushroom management can be devastating for everybody involved in any way. If the flow of information in a company, or in any other environment, is insufficient the people do not know how to react in situations that require quick assessment and prompt decision making.[9] For example a company that makes and sells shoes does a research about their customer´s preferences and finds out that their preferences have changed. This piece of information is, however, not given to the sales manager of a shop selling the shoes. The shop will still display the “old” shoes and not catch attention of the customers. At the end, the blame is often put on the shop assistants, because they are in a direct contact with the customers.[10]

Examples[edit]

Richard Fuld, Lehman Brothers CEO

Bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers[edit]

When the bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008, many secrets were revealed. Among others the way Richard S. Fuld, Jr., the former CEO, led the bank. The bank started to concentrate more and more on mortgages that were too risky. Neither the employees, nor the public knew about the true financial situation of the bank.[11] Fuld, together with other managers, kept a lot of essential information secret and lied to investors and all other parties involved. While everybody thought that Lehman Brothers are involved with variety of investments, the safe as well as the risky ones, when in reality they have been working with more risky loans that they should have been.[12] At the end, Fuld refused to take the blame for anything that had happened, even though he was responsible for concealment of information.[13]

Titanic sinking

Sinking of the Titanic[edit]

Mushroom management can occur while handling one-time situations as well. When the ship Titanic hit the iceberg, only a few members of the crew knew that the ship would sink. The captain did not inform majority of the crewmen of the seriousness of the situation, which concluded in a chaos and disorganization. He acted on his own without incorporating his officers into the decision making.[14]

How to fight this philosophy[edit]

Information has the power over the world. It is unavoidable to share the information with whom one works with. Yet, one of the most important things to do is to be able to differentiate between the information that can be shared with others and that cannot. Company should not give up all its secrets to its employees, because that could do even more harm. Managers should learn how to distribute information and how to communicate with the people they are responsible for.[15] The best way to avoid Mushroom Management is transparency.[16]

Good mushroom management[edit]

Sometimes, mushroom management can be a good thing when done a little differently. All the groups within the company work separately, but the manager makes sure that everyone has all the information needed for them specifically. This kind of management is extremely difficult and requires a lot of skill.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mushroom management". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Moorhead, Kristen. "Mushroom management steps for successful group projects". PowerShow. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Mushroom management". Urban Dictionary. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Mar, Anna. "Mushroom Management". Simplicable- business guide. Simplicable. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Neill, Colin; Laplante, Philip (2006). Antipatterns: Identification, Refactoring, and Management. Boca Raton, Florida: CRS Press. pp. 120–1. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Mushroom Management". ProjectWIki. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Mushroom Management". Changing Minds. Changing Minds. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Neill, Colin; Laplante, Phillip (2006). Antipatterns: Indentification,Refactoring and Management. Boca Raton, Florida: CRS Press. p. 121. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Smith, Gregory. "Mushroom Management- Don't keep your workforce in the dark". ManagerWise. ManagerWise. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Neill, Colin; Laplante, Phillip (2006). Antipatterns: Indentification,Refactoring and Management. Boca Raton, Florida: CRS Press. p. 121. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Harress, Christopher; Caulderwood, Kathleen. "The Death Of Lehman Brothers: What Went Wrong, Who Paid The Price And Who Remained Unscathed Through The Eyes Of Former Vice-President". International Business Times. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Montgomery, Ashileigh. "The Dearth of Ethics and the Death of Lehman Brothers". Sevenpillars Institute. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  13. ^ Harress, Christopher; Caulderwood, Kathleen. "The Death Of Lehman Brothers: What Went Wrong, Who Paid The Price And Who Remained Unscathed Through The Eyes Of Former Vice-President". International Business Times. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Smart, John M. "Saving the Titanic- Crowdsourcing to Find Hard Solutions, and Unlearning to Implement Them". Ever Smart World. John M. Smart. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Mar, Anna. "Mushroom Management". Simplicable- Business Guide. Simplicable. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Monty, Scott. "Why transparency and authenticity wins in business and in marketing". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Munro, Simon. "I suck at mushroom management". EMC Consulting. EMC. Retrieved 22 October 2014.