It was the title that grabbed you. The familiarity of the term and the concept it depicted. Nonetheless, different phrases often possess varying definitions or degrees of intensity to individuals. Thus, before we journey further in our exploration of our corporate condition, it is necessary for us to define the term and give examples of its practice; observed occurrences that will fully develop the concept in your mind.
Let us begin with proposing the simplest of situations. Imagine the owner of a muffin shop. This muffin shop actually only produces two types of muffins, blueberry and banana nut. Let us also assume that the shop has a standing order every week for 500 of each kind, (these muffins are on contract with schools and local businesses who expect these in agreed amounts every week.) To further illustrate the point of this example, let us propose that our muffin shop can only produce one batch at a time, and can only produce 1500 muffins per week. The shop is staffed by two cooks and one Muffin Boss (yes I know it is an odd title, but we are allowed creative license.) This week, in addition to the standing 1000 muffin order, the Owner of the shop emails the Muffin Boss and informs him/her that there is a good chance that they may receive two extra orders this week, but will most likely only have the capacity to fill one. Thursday morning the Muffin Boss gets an email on his/her blackberry informing him/her of an order for 150 blueberry muffins needed by Friday. Immediately, the Muffin Boss directs the kitchen staff to start a batch of 150 blueberry muffins. Later that day, the Owner emails the Muffin Boss and informs him/her of a wedding order, which will require 450 banana nut muffins. It is too late to begin this batch, and the other batch is half way done. At $5 a piece (these are really good muffins) the Muffin Boss cost the Owner $1500 due to making a rash decision, reacting instead of acting.
In this simplistic example of Reactive Management, we have a manager, which was afforded all of the needed pieces in order to make the correct decision, but instead, was eager and hastily made a choice that cost the organization money. One would expect such action from inexperienced managers overseeing matters of lesser consequence. But this is not the case. In fact, as we are marching forward through this rapidly changing technological age, managers are given less opportunity to flex their critical thinking skills due to technological reliance. Observe our Muffin Boss in the example above. The Muffin Boss through conditioning had become reliant upon instruction from the owner on every detail. (If you; the reader would argue such a statement, I would be willing to bet that this example is hitting a little too close to home.) The reason that I accuse the Muffin Boss of blind dependency is due to the nature of his title and career. She/he is the Muffin Boss, and should have the full authority to make batch and production decisions. Had this individual been mindful of his/her responsibility and authority, they would have inquired as to when the other order would come through so that he/she might make the most profitable decision. The manager certainly would not have just looked to his/her boss or the blackberry to spoon-feed them the answers and instructions on how to perform his/her job. After all, the true goal of the Muffin Boss is to produce quality products at maximum profits! Isn’t that the goal of your organization? Isn’t that the goal of every manager?