Chapter 13

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The whole concept of management is another one of those complicated and elusive endeavors.

Work and life are full of things that, given the choice between getting someone to do it or just doing it yourself, it's much easier to just do it yourself. If you're going to be a manager, you have to get people to do everything, and that's hard to do because people are nothing but bundles of irrational preferences, complications, talents, shortcomings, and weird emotional responses.

Unsurprisingly, engineers have special trouble transitioning into management. Engineers are comfortable with things that work well, and love things that work exceptionally well. Humans don't work well at all. Management is a world of trying to work through entities that work sporadically, pretty much, approximately, unpredictably.

You can be sure that the kids at the burger joint think that the manager is just getting more money and not doing anything, but for that manager to choose kids who might be competent, and to get them to do their jobs, is no easy matter. Not everyone could do it. Those kids couldn't do it.


Even in management of relatively professional people, it's a difficult chore, because you always have to accept work that is not as good as you could have done yourself. You have to not only live in but be responsible for a world in which the work isn't that good.

Dwight Eisenhower once said that the moment he knew that he was a manager was when somebody gave him a letter to sign, and he knew he could have done it better, but he signed it.