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Formal definition of a no-decision manager

While the dictionaries openly disagree on the definition of ‘decision’ and ‘decide’, (Note below) they are more subtle in their disagreement over the definition of the word ‘manager’. Here they simply ignore each other and compete to list the different types of manager that exist, making sure that no one dictionary copies another. Each dictionary has chosen a few types of manager to illustrate its definition. None has them all, few have the same and the list is interminable.

Some examples. There is one type of manager in politics especially in the British Houses of Parliament and the U.S. Senate: the parliamentary manager. There is one in law specifically in Britain’s Court of Chancery. There are different managers in sport: football, baseball, cricket and others. There many in finance. There are managers in the theatre, in hotels, in war, in childcare settings, in medicine and in animal work, usually horses. One type of manager even conducts household affairs. And then there are the managers who may or may not be human: the file manager, the volume manager, the device manager or the database manager.

The Oxford English Dictionary again goes out on its own. It refuses to apply an adjective to the word manager, as for instance in file manager, and instead puts managers into four categories: War, Business, Sport and Law.


However, the manager word in ‘no-decision manager’ has a narrower definition than even the Oxford English Dictionary allows. It is narrower because this manager is not at war and probably not in law. They can be in business and in sport but not exclusively and they exist in government, the civil service, charities or in any organisation.

By borrowing extensively from the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ‘manager’, the definition of a ‘no-decision manager’ becomes:

“a person who supposedly manages a team and supposedly controls, directs or administers a business, an organisation, a government administration or a public or private institution or any part, and who refuses to arrive at an opinion or conclusion about a matter under consideration or who refuses to make a decision regarding a question or issue, on which there is doubt or dispute, especially after considering several alternatives, but who allows other people to take decisions in their place.

Here it is possible to replace ‘supposedly’ by say ‘pretends to’ or ‘seemingly’ without any overall change in the meaning. To put it more simply, this is a manager who never takes a decision.

Of no-use

But even this is not of much use. It only explains what no-decision managers supposedly do and what they refuse to do, not why they are no-decision managers, how they survive and work in organisations. However, a definition is necessary, and now one officially exists.

Note: I have discussed the definitions of ‘decide’ and ‘decision’ is this article https://nodecisionmanager.co.uk/to-make-or-to-take-a-decision/

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