On Sunday, it will be a year since Carly Chynoweth’s piece on Management by muddling through was published in the Sunday Times. Her interest in the topic had been sparked by my blog post entitled, The 'beautiful, ugly truth' ... of organization and management, in which I had referred to, "... the muddling through nature of real-world management practice."
This notion of management as muddling through sits uncomfortably with established thinking on how organization works and how performance happens.
In particular, this perspective runs counter to the view that professional management practice is marked out by its pursuit of scientific rationality, predictability, and control. We see this reflected in the calls for practice to be “evidence-based”; the moves by representatives of professional bodies to standardize all aspects of the roles of managers and other organizational specialists; and the requirement for organization-related academic research to demonstrate a measureable benefit, if it is to be considered to be worthy of investment.
All of this presumes, first of all, that the scientific method is capable of discovering universal, ‘if you do this, you’ll get that’ truths. Secondly, it takes for granted the idea that this same methodology can be applied to the complex social process of human interaction that we call “the organization”.