The Oxymoron Manager

We need to be bold whilst at the same time not taking unnecessary risks, we need to be financially prudent but invest to make the most of technological but not see it as the solution to every problem. We must be more customer focused but we must also be open and honest about the limitation on our ability to meet their wants and needs. Successful organisation value and invest in their staff but we must not overlook the opportunities for greater efficiency that outsourcing will give us.  


The picture in my mind is of someone walking backwards across a desert dragging a bush as they desperately try to cover their tracks. 

The tactics are either attack or defend, the strategy is to go for some quick easy wins in the hope of building up some momentum or accept some early set backs as part of finding the right formulation for future success. The oxymoron manager can’t decide, both attack and defence are important, quick wins are needed but building for the future is a requirement. The result is that staff don’t know what they are being asked to do. 


How can you hold staff accountable if they are confused about where they should be directing their efforts or how they should be allocating their time? 


A former Director of finance with a lot of experience of advising LAs in financial difficulties would say, ”first you must plug the holes in the boat then you can start bailing the water out.” Advice the oxymoron manager is unable to take since they can’t shake the idea that both are necessary to stop the boat sinking and so both must be done. Result divided time and energy so only some of the holes get filled and eventually those bailing out the water succumb to fatigue.


Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger

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