“In the 1960s, an interesting series of experiments was done on air-traffic controllers’ mental capacities. Researchers wanted to explore if they had a general enhanced ability to ‘keep track of a number of things at once’ and whether that skill could be applied to other situations. After observing them at their work, researchers gave the air-traffic controllers a set of generic memory-based tasks with shapes and colours. The extraordinary thing was that, when tested on these skills outside their own area of expertise, the air-traffic controllers did no better than anyone else. Their remarkably sophisticated cognitive abilities did not translate beyond their professional area.”
Alistair Crowley’s Organisational Pentacle
The notion that there are general thinking skills is closely allied to the managerialist notion of the the generic manager, moving effortlessly from managing a supermarket to managing an opera house or a hospital. From Barclays to the BBC.
I have an equation I like to share at this point:
P+A ≠ M+T
That is to say that the model of professionals supported by administrators is not replaceable by the model of managers directing technicians.
When was the last time you heard the term ‘managerial judgement’?