Thursday, June 23, 2011

Managing and Controlling or One of These Things is Not Like the Other

There are some interesting threads on various internet discussion forums.  Some are interesting as in "this is a thought provoking conversation with a lot of good ideas."  Some are more along the lines of "this is a very odd series of disjointed thoughts where people can not even agree on what they disagree on."

One was interesting in the "What is this guy talking about?" sort of way.

His assertion was that Exploratory Testing was fine for small groups of one or two testers.  However, it was unsuitable for larger or regulated environments because testing could not be controlled.  He also suggested that Exploratory Testing was not as thorough as fully scripted testing because you did not need to think about it before you did it. 

Take a deep breath, Pete.  Can we start with this, "What is the difference between Controlling and Managing?"  His response was "None. They are the same thing."

Oh dear, oh my, oh dear.

Let's see.  Being too lazy to look get out one of my physical dictionaries, I turned to Google and searched for "control definition",  "manage definition",  "controlling definition" and "managing definition".  I very scientifically grabbed the top search results (that were not paid advertisements) and found this... 

Control: –verb
1. to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command.
2. to hold in check; curb.
Control: -noun
1. the act or power of controlling; regulation; domination or command.
2. the situation of being under the regulation, domination, or command of another.

Then there is this...

Manage: -verb (used with object)
1. to bring about or succeed in accomplishing, sometimes despite difficulty or hardship.
2. to take charge or care of.
Manage: -verb (used without object)
1. to conduct business, commercial affairs, etc.; be in charge.
2. to continue to function, progress, or succeed, usually despite hardship or difficulty; get along:

Now then, we have looked at the roots, now let us look at the  -ing words in question.

Controlling: -adjective
1. inclined to control others' behavior; domineering
Managing:  -adjective
1. having executive or supervisory control or authority

As I sit here, I think a bit on the interesting idea that Manage and Control are the same thing.  Based on these definitions, I find it interesting that there can be a serious assertion made that they mean the same thing.  Having said that, I know certain boss types who firmly believe this.  Me, I'm far to liberal (at least in the traditional, apolitical sense of the word) to agree with this.

Liberal:  -adjective
1. open to new behavior or opinions
2. favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms

Now, if you want to exercise restraint or direction over your people (whom I suspect you refer to as "resources") or to dominate your staff or to hold them in check, have a great time.  Your staff probably won't. 

Oh, I won't be part of that game, either.

Now, if you want to be in charge and guide and supervise your staff, no worries from me.  I'd be happy to discuss exactly what that means to you and I'd also be interested in knowing how your people perceive your style of management.

Now, to be sure, there is some overlap in some of the words.  If the intent of "Control" follows the defntitions I found, I am simply not interested.  If the intent of "Manage" follows the definitions I found, I may be interested and would be willing to talk about it.  Having said that, if your use of "manage" really means "control" - I'm not going to play along.

Managing and Controlling are far from the same concept.  If you want to be a Manager, consider just what the differences are.

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