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现代企业管理有多“科学”?

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2017年12月20日

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It has been a while since a UK company was accused of sorcery. 英国企业已经有好长时间没有被指控使用巫术了。

Congratulations, then, to evolutionary biologist Sally Le Page for triggering just such a charge last week. 那么,恭喜进化生物学家萨丽•勒佩奇(Sally Le Page)上周触发了这样的一个指控。

She blogged her astonishment that many of the country’s biggest water companies had blithely admitted to using dowsing rods to help locate pipes and leaks. Another scientist has dismissed the technique as witchcraft. 勒佩奇在一篇博文中表达了她的震惊:英国很多大型水务公司若无其事地承认借助占卜棒来定位管道和泄漏点。另一位科学家则把这种方法视为巫术。

The water suppliers themselves have been rowing back fast. Some engineers were part-time diviners, apparently, but the real hard work of leak detection was backed by drones, robots and lots and lots of science. 相关供水公司很快改口。显然,一些工程技术人员是兼职的占卜者,但真正艰巨的检漏工作是由无人飞机、机器人和大量科技手段支持的。

I say let us allow the water industry’s warlocks to indulge their medieval pastimes. After all, there are plenty of examples of modern management and leadership based on superstition, credulity and blind faith. Here are just a few: 要我说,就让水务行业的术士们沉迷于这种中世纪的消遣吧。毕竟,有很多现代的管理和领导方式建立在迷信、轻信和盲从之上。以下是其中一小部分:

Numerology. In China, mumbo-jumbo about feng shui and ominous or propitious flotation dates, trading symbols and stock codes often influences how supposedly sophisticated companies arrange their affairs. Elements of Alibaba’s 2014 listing appeared to revolve around the “lucky” number eight, for example. 数字命理学。在中国,有关风水的煞有介事的理论,以及上市日期、商标和股票代码的吉凶,往往影响着理应现代化的企业安排事务的方式。例如,2014年阿里巴巴(Alibaba)上市的某些元素似乎围绕着8这个“吉祥”数字。

But before western chief executives scoff, they should consider how much they are still in thrall to the cult described in Alex Berenson’s 2003 book The Number — the quarterly earnings consensus they conspire with analysts and investors to hit, or better still, to beat. Regular evidence — recently, for instance, from Campbell Soup (a miss), and Home Depot (a “beat”) — suggests the cult is thriving. 但西方的首席执行官们也别忙着嗤之以鼻,他们应当先想想自己有多受制于亚历克斯•贝伦森(Alex Berenson)在2003年出版的《数字》(The Number)一书中描述的痴迷,那就是他们与分析师和投资者合谋要达到、或最好超出的季度盈利共识预测。时常有证据表明这种痴迷仍在大行其道,如最近的金宝汤公司(Campbell Soup)(逊于预期)和家得宝(Home Depot)(超出预期)。

Indeed, the availability and crunchability of Big Data have broadened disciples of the number. They now include company bosses who worship near-term, data-driven answers, rather than holding out for better, if messier, longer-term solutions that take account of human intuition. 的确,大数据的可获得和可分析特性拓宽了数字痴迷者群体。现在这个群体包括一些企业老板,他们崇拜短期的、数据驱动的答案,而不是等待更好的(即便更乱糟糟的)、考虑人类直觉的较长期解决方案。

As the veteran management thinker Charles Handy pointed out in a rousing closing address to the recent Drucker Forum, “if the organisation were purely digitised . . . it would be a very dreary place, a prison for the human soul”. 元老级管理学思想家查尔斯•汉迪(Charles Handy)最近在德鲁克论坛(Drucker Forum)上发表激动人心的闭幕演讲,正如他在其中指出的那样,“如果组织纯粹是数字化的……它将沉闷至极,禁锢人类的灵魂”。

Leaps of faith. Any chief executive who has ever announced a corporate vision without a clear idea of the kinds of steps needed to achieve the goal is at least partly guilty of magical thinking. 信仰飞跃。任何首席执行官如果宣布了公司愿景,却对实现目标所需的步骤不甚了了,都至少抱有一部分魔幻思维。

Richard Rumelt wrote in Good Strategy/Bad Strategy 理查德•鲁梅尔特(Richard Rumelt)在《好战略,坏战略》(Good Strategy/Bad Strategy)中论述了这样一种危险错觉,即追求成功也许会带来成功:“我不会愿意搭乘由那些只关注飞机飞行时的画面、而从不考虑故障模式的人设计的飞机。”

about the dangerous delusion that aiming for success can lead to success: “I would not care to fly in an aircraft designed by people who focused only on an image of a flying aeroplane and never considered modes of failure.” 抛枚硬币许个愿。证据显示,奖金往好了说也只是一种生硬的激励,而现代企业仍对此视而不见,它们向员工砸钱,希望这样能有助于触动他们的心灵。至少许愿池只是吞下扔进去的硬币,除此之外没什么负面后果。奖金制度如果不加节制,那就像金融?;凶罟值男形砻鞯?,可能会以令人意外的方式变成坏事。

Throw a coin and make a wish. Modern companies still close their eyes to evidence suggesting bonuses are at best a blunt incentive, and chuck cash at staff in the hope that it will help them reach their heart’s desire. At least wishing wells swallow the donation with no adverse consequence, other than the loss of your penny. Unfettered bonus culture, as the worst excesses of the financial crisis suggest, can backfire in unexpected ways. 祷文与咒语。盲目应用的治理规范和规章制度,帮助只会打勾填表的合规员工和董事会成员安心睡觉,因为他们不必再做出艰难的判断。无意义的使命宣言为高管们提供了一条挂在嘴上的咒语,为他们不去实践价值观打掩护。

Chants and mantras. Slavishly applied governance codes and regulations help box-ticking compliance staff and board members sleep easy, by absolving them of the need to make difficult judgments. Meaningless mission statements give executives a mantra to recite as cover for not actually putting their values into practice. 人祭。重组和裁员是安抚诸神的现代仪式(只是没有了群落聚在一起欢庆一下的好处)。

Human sacrifice. Restructurings and lay-offs are the modern ritual for appeasing the gods (but without the benefits of bringing the community together for a bit of a celebration). 英雄崇拜。尽管有大量关于扁平等级制度和分布式领导的流行说法,首席执行官们仍是他们自己制造的神话中的核心人物。

Hero worship. For all the modish talk of flat hierarchies and distributed leadership, chief executives still become the central figures in a myth that is largely of their own creation. 这种自欺欺人的最危险之处在于,他们认为成功完全是通过自己的“技能、准备与坚韧不拔”实现的,就像吉姆•柯林斯(Jim Collins)和莫滕•汉森(Morten Hansen)在《选择卓越》(Great by Choice)中描述的那样。

The most dangerous part of this self-delusion is that they believe success was achieved entirely through their “skill, preparation and tenacity”, as described by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen in Great by Choice 这两名研究者发现,成功的领导者可能产生更大的“运气回报”,因为他们在利用机会时更有章法,并能借助时运不佳砥砺自身,最终变得更强大。但两名研究者也指出,最佳领导者和那些由于过分、危险地信奉自身本事而令组织面临风险的领导者只有一线之隔。后一类人倾向于这样断言:“我的成功根本不是靠运气——我就是很优秀。”

. 正是就此而言,对那些无法预知的、外界知之甚少的力量保持谦逊的尊重是有益的。即时没有什么别的作用,它至少可以提醒那些自信心爆棚的领导者:有时他们的命运并不受他们掌控。

The researchers found successful leaders could generate a greater “return on luck” by being more disciplined at exploiting opportunities and riding bad luck to make themselves stronger. But they pointed out there was a fine line between the best leaders and those who put their organisations at risk through an exaggerated and dangerous belief in their own powers. Such leaders had a tendency to make these sorts of assertions: “Luck played no role in my success — I’m just really good.”
 


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