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Get Out of Office, Boss, It Screens Reality

April 14, 1985

Economic Affairs Editor John F. Lawrence in a well-taken essay a few months ago ("Isolation From the Troops Can Hamper Boss", Dec. 30, 1984) falls for one management fallacy. He cites Robert Townsend of "Up the Organization" fame for the concept that "the executive's place is not in his own office but in everybody else's."

To the extent that this means merely wandering around other offices in headquarters, I say an emphatic "nay." He will still suffer from headquarters myopia.

The executive's place, first of all, is right out on the factory floor, or what passes for that in his business. He must be able to sense whether things are going right, or when trouble is brewing. Besides, it tells his production people that management cares: one friend of mine called it "reviewing the troops."

He also has to know what the customers really expect or need. This means a lot of time making calls with salesmen. Only that way does he avoid the famous pet-food marketing program kick-off where somebody finally whispered, "But the dogs won't eat our stuff."

Offices are still artificial enclosures screening out reality.

W. K. BACHELDER

Newport Beach

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