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Danger of Control

Control carries different danger potentials, which are also well-documented in organisational research. Complex conditions promote these dangers. Giving a name to these dangers must not be seen as criticism of control, quite the opposite: only those who know the dangers of an instrument, can handle it appropriately! Five particularly important aspects are listed here: • Control decisions easily over-estimate their performance capacity. During control instances, the information burden becomes too high (endless meetings with endless slides), the coordination efforts explode (inconsistent control numbers in matrix organisations) and communicating the ambiguity of facts cannot be accomplished. • Control decisions threaten to proliferate. The contradictions and complications of the real situations can hardly be grasped with unambiguous, general and binding concepts anymore (also see guiding process dealing with the present). • Control decisions are insufficiently complex. Control narrows the attention to specific parameters, so that the salient points are no longer perceived, because they lie outside the ‘measuring apparatus’. • Control decisions become rigid. The control structures of the organisation threaten to take on the character of immutability and lead to strong demotivation, adaptation, passivity or avoidance strategies on the side of employees. • Control decisions supress error messages. Employees report desired news and reduce or avoid real feedback or real ‘state of play reports’, so that the reported figures show a sugar-coated view of the world. All dangers can be observed in organisations, if one lets them run like this, without the risk always being noticed. None of these dangers can be completely avoided. As everywhere, it is about the ability to regulate, the readiness to see danger and to treat those as risks which must be directed.