PM#11 – Management By Shouting Loudest (MBSL)

[Originally drafted in 2008, published 2011 with minor modifications]


Swipple’s Rule of Order
He who shouts loudest has the floor.

He who does shout loudest and takes the floor, often fails to realise that there may well be other people who can’t or won’t shout louder. Thus we find ourselves in a position whereby other folks’ opinions are either not heard or become of secondary value: there is a huge lost opportunity. It’s a lost opportunity because those folks whose ideas and opinions that are not heard, may well be better than those offered by the people who shout the loudest. Shouting the loudest may also be referred to as Management By Shouting Loudest (MBSL).

Similarly, he who shouts loudest may believe that their contribution or their requirements should take priority over those contributions suggested by others. Where prioritisation is assumed, one needs to consider the knock-on effect – whenever something becomes your top priority, something has to give. A lack of warning or preparation on the part of others means we suddenly have an emergency to deal with. It’s also about respecting folks’ schedules – folks in IT don’t sit at our desks twiddling our thumbs waiting for your emergency to happen (a common misconception that affects the IT industry on a large scale).

If you do succumb to accepting a task from somebody who shouts the loudest, think about the impact it has on your current schedule. What is being sacrificed? What is going to take longer to complete? Apart from yourself, who are you letting down as a result of accepting the MBSL task?

It’s no wonder that “he who shouts loudest” is a very old trick and one that is still in use today. Watch out for it, try to curb its use by catching it early: try and coach the person doing the shouting into adopting a more democratic approach. Look out for lost opportunity moments, capture those, give them air time – you may be surprised how much innovation is lost by accepting the MBSL way.

In this series:
PM#10 – The truth is best…admit it…
PM#9 – Avoid duplication of effort
PM#8 – Multi-tasking is evil
PM#7 – High workload means lower productivity…
PM#6 – You were right and I was wrong
PM#5 – Whose schedule is it anyway?
PM#4 – Start it…finish it
PM#3 – Use e-mail properly
PM#2 – Focus on the project
PM#1 – decision making