November 13, 2023

Masters and management

There was a time when being a Master was to be an expert. To have experience. To have care for the transmission of that expertise and experience to the younger generation so as not to lose it, and so they don’t waste their time re-inventing wheels, but can instead explore the new to create a different, enriched, expanded experience.

Somewhere, in the West Indies and the American South we abandoned that model of mastership in favour of something brutal. The simple fact of having life and death power over others as property.

Slave-owners perfected the art of record-keeping for forecasting and resource allocation as they perfected the systems of co-option, surveillance and punishment that enabled it – in spite of being considerably outnumbered.

Systems of control that ultimately allowed them to treat people as merely ‘so many entries on a spreadsheet’, to be moved around at will. A level of predictability and resource stability that manufacturers back home in England, or in the American North could only dream of.

Except of course they didn’t just dream about it. As plantation owners did after slavery was abolished in the US, manufacturers and businesses around the world worked hard to achieve as nearly the same conditions as they could, keeping just this side of the letter of the anti-slavery laws.

Some are still at it. No matter how engaging the employee experience.

But you don’t have to be. You can be the kind of master that hands power and wisdom to the next generation so that they can thrive and pass it on.

You can be a Disappearing Boss.

Discipline makes Daring possible.