Batuhan: The last great dictatorship (Part 2)

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By Allan S. B. Batuhan

Foreign Exchange

Saturday, January 25, 2014

MANAGEMENT is a very tricky thing.

Couched in the jargon of business, its practice is sometimes seen to be outside the sphere of human affairs. It is like a world insulated on its own, with managers operating as non-human agents, acting in the “best interests” of this entity called the corporation.

Sometimes, managers like ourselves, too, are caught up in this great charade. We behave in ways both bizarre and unusual, and justify it as “just doing our jobs.”


I have found, for example, perfectly rational people who behave rather normally, to then start acting and behaving sub-rationally and abnormally, when inside the confines of their organizations. And a lot of this dualistic behavior depends, to a very large extent, on how organizations are organized and measured.

Think basketball, for once.

We all know Lebron James and what he can do with the ball inside the basketball court.

He is an all-around court general. He can dribble, pass, shoot, dunk, rebound, and pretty much do everything better than everyone else. He has been known to win games single-handedly, and turn things around when all seems to have been lost.

So picture this for a second. Coach Erik Spoelstra tells Lebron that he has to play only as a point guard. That’s all. He can’t make his trademark penetrating moves to the basket. He cannot grab offensive rebounds and perform his customary slam dunks.

He cannot post up against the bigger men of the other teams. He only has to be point guard. Coach Spoelstra has decided that every man on his team should be so specialized, they cannot do anything other than what their position says they should do. And he has decided, for whatever reason, that Lebron should be point guard, and that’s all that he should do. No more, and no less.

To cap it all, he tells Lebron that his worth as a player is only going to be measured
by how well he plays his point guard role. Any other thing he does, whether it wins games for the team, is considered a free pass and counts for nothing in the evaluation of his performance.

So what happens here?

Probably a combination of things, and mostly bad ones.

First, Lebron would probably be a very unhappy player. One day, he is this all-marauding presence, tormenting opponents’ defences wherever he plays. He is enjoying his time doing what he does best, for the good of the team. The next day, his hands are suddenly tied. He is told to hold back, to play only a restricted role, and to not pitch-in even when his team is falling behind, because it is not his job anymore to do so.

Of course, it would be very bad for Miami too.

For one, they are paying Lebron to do for them the things that he does best. The reason why he is there, and is paid the money that he is, is that he has the ability that commands the premium money he earns. He is a winner, and he wins games.

The change in the way the team plays, suddenly becomes a lose-lose proposition, both for the team and the player.

And yet, nothing has changed. Lebron is still there, and the team is still there.

But if Spoelstra changed things like this, it will be a very different Miami Heat to what we are used to seeing. (More next week)

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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 25, 2014.


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