The President and the World

Terry Caesar, Inside Higher Ed, Sept 26, 2005
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Unlike the author, I've had numerous dealings with university presidents (mostly of an adversarial nature). But like him, I've had occasion to ponder the qualities that characterize management, especially upper level management. And I've concluded recently that the primary advancement trait is (are you ready for it?): compliance. People who advance in management are those who demonstrate - through dress, behaviour, language and actions - that they will comply with the order established by upper management. And such managers demand compliance in turn - it's a self-perpetuating cycle. But because innovation requires individuality and creativity, compliance-based cultures eventually stagnate. Organizations and businesses that break the cycle of compliance will ultimately succeed, because they can innovate. So far, though, examples are extremely rare.
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