Over the past couple of months, I’ve been reading my way through the archives of a blog called Farnam Street. Among other interests, the blog maintainer is a big fan of Warren Buffett (Buffett’s home and office are both located on Farnam St. in Omaha). In a recent post, he noted that even though Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, has over 300,000 employees, its central office is so small that it doesn’t even have an HR department.
Why? Because Buffett’s management style is so minimalist as to be nonexistent. Rather than trying to dictate policy and procedure for every Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, Buffett hires competent managers and tells them, “You do you.” His success is based not on micromanaging, but on trust.
This pattern, though extremely successful, is rejected by nearly every other large company. Most CEO’s prefer to manage through bureaucracy, not trust. As the Farnam Street blogger observes, “It’s a seductive illusion to think that we can create a system where people can’t mess up.”
Oh, wow, is that ever true! Nor is its application limited only to the business world. In fact, I think a lot of well-meaning Christians have embarked on the spiritual equivalent of bureaucracy-building. Continue reading