THE FUTURE EXECUTIVE by Harlan Cleveland


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Convincing evidence that the youth revolution of the '60's has produced more than longer hair for gentlemen and a new meaning for grass. Cleveland, bona fide member of the Establishment (former Assistant Secretary of State, former Ambassador to NATO, now President of the Univ. of Hawaii), states emphatically that the successful executive of the future (which is now) must construct and operate within ""horizontal"" rather than ""vertical"" decision-making systems -- administrative patterns capable of moving ""from the more formal, hierarchical, order-giving way of doing business and toward the more informal, fluid workways of bargaining, brokerage, advice and consent."" Less efficient but more open and in the long run more productive than the old pyramidal construct, the new lateral design will ""deliberately induce a degree of tension within the organization, enough loud and cheerful argument among its members so that all possible outcomes are analyzed""; to function in this freer climate, says Cleveland, the executive or administrator must be intelligent, ""lowkey,"" ""collegial,"" and ""positively enjoy complexity and constant change."" He ends by arguing that the switch from authoritarianism to horizontal consensus and consultation could greatly reduce current anti-organization sentiments, especially among the young who will no longer docilely accept administrative rigidity and mindless resistance to change. The managerial literature is currently full of this kind of executive greening but Cleveland says it so well, so clearly, so commonsensically, so irrefutably that one wishes his essay a large readership.

Pub Date: July 5th, 1972
Publisher: Harper & Row