Leadership through Eyes of a Coach...Alan Booth

Friday, January 17, 2020

Fire All the Managers

This is a quote from an article in Harvard Business Review.  It led me to research the role of manager when I was manufacturing executive at American Optical.

Here is what I found: 

Management ...

n  Is an expensive overhead, generally 33% of payroll
n  Increases the risk of bad judgment
n  Slows down decision making with unnecessary layers and bias
n  Disenfranchises lower-level employees


At America Optical as a manufacturing executive, I did two studies to validate these statements.

The first was done with the head of accounting whose department produced 8 reports to manufacturing managers. We decided from gut feel what were the most used reports that added value.

We produced all reports but stopped delivering 4.

In six months time, not one manager asked for them.  We discovered they then had shorter meeting with more measurable outcomes [actions]


When I researched the quality issues that cost us an arm and leg, I discovered that the people closest to the cause and the resolution was the best operators on each line.

So the next study was to employ these people to; [1] be the ultimate inspector of quality and, [2] to go back to their peers to take action.  No management involvement.


  1. Quality approached 98% passing
  2. Operators discovered innovative ways to increase output by 85%
  3. No more need for the expensive "management research lab"

The most significant realization: mangers got in the way of those closest to the problems!