Mr Q's post yesterday on the travails of Sports Direct, and Jan's comment on companies "where the top brass never really know what's going on beneath them" strike a chord.
The issue of management never visiting the shop-floor is a mystery to me -
the preserve of lazy gits, however sharp they may be on some aspects of the business. My father was in marketing for a multi-national manufacturer: head office through-and-through, but he always insisted on his sales force becoming familiar with the widely-flung production sites - which he himself visited frequently - and I was brought up to believe this was the obvious thing to do. Just an extension of an officer's duty, army style, which both he and I were in our times: really basic stuff. But done in the right spirit, it's no chore. It's actually 100% self-interested! - an education and a boon to all concerned. As perhaps Mr Ashley now recognizes.
I was always head-office, too, in various energy co's, and practised the same philosophy, sometimes to the amazement of my nicely-dressed, London-bound staff who had sort-of viewed the plant as dirty and noisy and, well, beneath their dignity
but actually it is amazing [see this little tale - who couldn't be impressed by that sort of kit?], as they rapidly discovered. Getting to grips with it in the flesh - the steel'n'concrete, and the operatives & stroppy plant management - paid massive dividends.
[Not least - when I was with oil companies - the trips out to the North Sea platforms (in the grand days before Piper Alpha put paid to non-essential trips offshore), which were often a serious adventure; and all came my way because I took the ops side seriously, even if it was technically 'none of my business'.]
The denizens of the factory floor don't like 'inspections' from on high, or pure dilettante head-office tourism. But take a genuine interest, and they are only too keen to (a) show off what they've got & what they can do, and (b) spill the gen. Who wouldn't want to be given that kind of first-hand low-down?
Then when the chips are down and the custard has hit the fan, you can just pick up the phone and it's old friends just sorting things out together (the occasional crate of whisky often helps, too). Nothing but contempt for 'management' who don't know what's oop at 'mill.