There is something sad and ironic in your interview with George Labovitz on bottom-up management (Face to Face, June).
Although no one who is knowledgeable about the behavioral sciences has disagreed lately with the participatory views expressed by Mr. Labovitz, he gives the impression in the interview that he has discovered something. I fail to see what that might be, unless it is his way of simplifying and packaging the message for wide delivery.
I appreciate that busy managers prefer straightforward messages and that stories and aphorisms can be easier to digest when made available on videotape. I can even understand Labovitz's lumping together of different methods, such as participative management, management by walking around, and quality circles. At least they all involve listening to other people.
His simplifications become gross errors, however, when he refers to sensitivity training as "let's all get naked and rub up against each other." That is not, and never has been, the approach taken by sensitivity training, and such a reference does severe injustice to the thousands of people who have learned something important about how they do or don't listen to other people, without so much as taking their shoes off in a T-group. In fact, sensitivity training focuses directly on the kind of listening that Mr. Labovitz advocates.
Neither bottom-up management nor interpersonal sensitivity is a fad. Both have been valid aspects of managing since some time around the building of the pyramids.