[Image (CC) by Kevin Dooley]
In recent years our formerly robust micro-management movement has come under attack. We have seen business-as-usual nearly destroyed within so-called “forward thinking” companies like Google, with their 20% time and free food and laundry. Sure, you and I know those things are just a ploy to keep their sheep-loyees smiling and in the office for long hours, all the while paying them less than the competition. But let’s face it, 21st century office workers are stupid. I meet lots of mindless cube dwellers who think they would love to work in a Google type of environment. They dream of flexible hours, open spaces, and free communication throughout the enterprise. They just don’t get it. Hello?! Little internet startups, like Google, have to do those things because it’s the only way to get neo-hippy California surfer dudes into the office. BUT REAL BUSINESS DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY!
I’ve been in business a long time. I have lived through the touch-tone revolution, the fax machine revolution, the PC revolution, the Email revolution, and the internet revolution. I am so sick of “revolutions” that don’t amount to any more than just another “thingy” on your desktop to learn. Wake up! It’s not a revolution, people! It’s just NEW technology that helps you do the same OLD things faster. But, with each new “revolution” we have to work harder to keep our workers focused on the business at hand. That’s why we invented micro-management in the first place. How do you keep your employees from making personal phone calls? You stand behind them and tap your foot each time they pick up the phone. Basic MM 101. But now the forces arrayed against us have unleashed their greatest weapon to date, the “social” revolution. This one is sneaky. There’s no particular “thingy” to ban from the office. Defense of the Standard Operating Procedure requires a new kind of management. We must go beyond Micro-, all the way to Nano-management, or Nanagement.
As part of the Nanagement Productivity Initiative in my office we worked closely with the technology nerds to whitelist the internet. Employees are now only able to access the sites that we explicitly allow them to access while in the office. There were some concerns that whitelisting might curtail employee access to information, slow down transfer of knowledge, and inhibit communication, but I am confident that any slowdown will be fully offset by increases in productivity, since employees are no longer able to waste time shopping or talking to friends. Part two of the productivity initiative involves employees relinquishing all Personal Electronic Devices upon entering the building to be returned only at the conclusion of an 8 hour shift. (The lunch hour is time set aside for the employee to eat lunch quietly, not to use PEDs.)
Nanagement is more involved than micro-management. It requires that nanagers control all access to employee knowledge and that every moment of the employee’s time while in the office be supervised. The first steps of nanagement are simple things like whitelisting the internet and banning personal electronics, but the future is bright for nanagers. I foresee a time when every position will have one worker and one nanager who supervises the worker, reporting any lull in activity or non-productive use of the workers’ time to senior nanagement, who will then determine an appropriate punishment for the employee.
There are those who think my vision is draconian and counter-productive. They feel that by limiting my employees access to information and communication, I’m destroying creativity and innovation. And that the true path to worker productivity is through open communication at all levels and freedom to experiment with different technologies and new methods of collaboration.
What a crock of horse crap that is! I pay my people to work not to talk to each other.
Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is Principal at Sente Advisors, a legal technology consultancy specializing in innovation strategy and cross-platform solutions and support.  He has been an evangelist, advocate, consultant, and creative thinker in Legal Technology for more than 15 years. In 2015, he was named a FastCase 50 recipient, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In past lives, he was an Innovation Architect, Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, a Fashion Merchandiser, and Theater Composer, among other things.