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25. “The best strategy for managing a business, or any enterprise, is to find the most capable people and give them as much authority as possible.”

Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.

Is the most effective management approach to hire the best people, then to give them as much autonomy as possible to serve the firm’s goals? This strategy would certainly enhance an employee’s sense of involvement, purpose and personal worth. It would also benefit the firm by encouraging employees to work creatively and productively. But the strategy requires two constraints to operative effectively.

First, the strategy must be constrained by strong leadership that provides clear vision and direction. Simply putting the most capable people together, and letting them loose on projects will provide neither. Thinking so involves the mistaken assumption that just because the parts of a whole are good, the collection of the parts into a whole will be equally good. Business organizations are more than just the sums of their excellent parts; to be similarly excellent, the organization must also be unified and cohesive. And it is strong and visionary leadership that provides these two ingredients.

Second, the strategy must be constrained by an organizational structure that brings all individual efforts together as a coherent whole. Of course, structure can be crippling, heavily layered; overly bureaucratic organizations probably stifle more creative productivity than they inspire. Still, individuals will be capable at some things and not others, so some organization of efforts is always called for. The moderate—and perhaps optimal—approach would be to create a structure that gives individuals some authority across areas relating to their field of expertise, while reserving final authority for higher-level managers. For example, no individual in a finance department should have much authority over a design department. However, within the design department, individual researchers, artists, drafters, and engineers can all contribute meaningfully to one another’s projects, and a flexible organizational structure would allow them to do so.

In sum, the advice to hire the best people and give them wide authority requires modification. Hiring capable people and granting them some concurrent authority across areas related to their expertise is better advice. Moreover, solid leadership and a cohesive organizational structure are prerequisites—both are needed to coordinate individual efforts toward the accomplishment of common goals.


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