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As everybody knows, managers have practically nothing to do—that is, nothing except...Decide what is to be done; tell somebody to do it; listen to reasons why it should not be done; why it should be done by somebody else, or why it should be done in a different way, and prepare arguments in rebuttal that should be convincing and conclusive. Then they must follow up to see if the thing has been done, and if it hasn’t been done to inquire why not; then to listen to excuses from the person who should have done it. Another job is to follow up a second time to see if the thing has been done, discover that it wasn’t done right, and to conclude that it might as well be left as it is, reflecting that the person at fault has five children and that no other manager would put up with him for a second.

Leaders must also ponder how much simpler and better the thing could have been done if they had done it themselves; to reflect sadly that if they had done it themselves they would have finished the task in twenty minutes, but as it was they had to spend four days trying to find out why it had taken somebody else three weeks to do it wrong.

Bits and Pieces, May, 1990, p. 16

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