Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Knight Management, and the Knight Way

One of the problems facing medieval kings was managing the feudal lords who made up their tax base and army. Knights in particular were a cross between conscripts and independent contractors, between officers in the army, heavy armored units, and mercenary captains. They were also potential competitors with the king if not managed properly.  A good deal of thought therefore went into the management of knights: how to motivate them, coordinate them and control them. Much of the planning involved was long term, e.g. the children of important knights were educated at the king's court, making them both allies and hostages.

Not surprisingly, some of this thought can be adapted to address the problems facing modern managers.

Stanford's Graduate School of Business is at the forefront of the effort to re-learn and re-purpose some of this innovative medieval management wisdom (e.g. when should the table be round?), with a center devoted to this branch of management knowledge:

While kings needed the kind of advice that today would be given to CEOs about how to manage executive vice presidents, there was also an extensive body of more tactical knowledge (e.g. have your knights take off their armor before attempting a river crossing). These were compiled in detailed manuals, and one ancient source compiled 655 rules, which were published in the codex known as the 655 Knight Way.

1 comment:

dWj said...

cf. http://hacks.mit.edu/by_year/1991/edwin_phortey/