Artists, Craftsmen, & Technocrats (was: Note from a Friend)greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
In the 'Note from a friend' thread a couple of people commented on how groupthink occurs. Patricia Pitcher wrote a brilliant book that some of you might enjoy. She called it 'Artists, Craftsmen, and Technocrats.' Pitcher believes that almost all organizations that grow significantly are driven by what she defines as an 'Artist.'
You have probably already guessed that she doesn't mean someone with a paintbrush, but rather the 'maverich' or the 'outside-the-box' thinker.
The thing that defines Pitcher's 'Artist' is an aptitude to make _successful_ 'intuitive' decisions.
The Technocrat is an extreme rationalist, the kind of person who tries to reduce _all_ decisions to logical algorithyms, who talks about people as 'decision qualified inventory' etc etc etc. You probably already have your most hated technocrat in mind by now.
The Craftsmen are everybody else. Calm, competent, implementers. They appreciate the Artist, although they worry about them, but they hate the technocrat.
Anyway, Pitcher analysed a 'Fortune 1000' type company over eight years. The founding Artist turned the company over to a Technocrat because the Artist thought the company could use a dose of 'rigorous' management after his years of Artistic management.
Artists often surround themselves with Technocrats because they use the analytical ability of the Technocrat.
Once the Technocrat gets power, however, it's all downhill. Because the only person the Technocrat trusts is another Technocrat. Slowly, or not so slowly, the upper ranks are filled by Technocrat's, and the company begins its long, slow decline. (Depending on how big it is and how much momentum it has.)
Michael Eisner, Jack Welch and a few like them are the exceptions to the rule. Obviously both are Artist who managed to fool the Technocrats long enough to get the top spot.
All of our reading lists are long and full, but Pitcher is up there with 'Structure of Scientific Revolutions' and 'On War' on my shelf.
-- Steven Kayser (email@example.com), April 15, 1999