Hamel’s Stretch Goals for Management

I’m working through the pile of links I’ve accumulated.  Gary Hamel’s 25 Stretch Goals for Management caught my eye, if nothing else because I liked the challenge they attempt to address:

What is it about the way large organizations are currently managed that will most imperil their ability to thrive in the decades ahead; and given this, what fundamental changes will be needed in management principles, processes and practices?

Four goals caught my eye, the first three are pulled together by the last phrase “equip every employee to act in the interests of the entire enterprise”:

13. Develop holistic performance measures. Existing performance metrics must be recast, since they give inadequate attention to the critical human capabilities that drive success in the creative economy.
14. Stretch executive time frames and perspectives. Continue reading

How to get “Movin’ on up…”

If I paid you to think, you could cash your check at the penny arcade.

If I paid you to think, you could cash your check at the penny arcade.

John Baldoni’s post (here) identifies one of the leadership lessons I’ve had to re-learn continually — letting go of my self-image as the “go-to” or “indispensable” person.  It saps my team’s effectiveness when I don’t remember to step back from my tendency to want to know it all (and to “show that I know” to all).

John is riffing on a while paper from Scott Elbin’s firm (the firm’s site is here, Scott’s Next Level blog is here).  I won’t recapitulate the post; John’s summary (below) is effective enough on its own:

[L]eaders accomplish little by themselves; they can accomplish much by working with others. Those who are in positions of identifying and grooming next generation leaders would do well to select managers who know how to achieve results through the actions of others. Competency will get you promoted one or two rungs on the ladder; working with and through others will open doors to senior leadership.

I am powerless over my Blackberry…

But I’m glad to say that my life isn’t unmanageable.  Or at least I can’t blame its unmanageability on my BB, so I identified with Karen Dillon’s post (here) and especially this passage:

Even now, sometimes when I can’t sleep, I get up and check e-mail at odd hours of the night. It’s not because of stress, it’s because it helps my mind focus on something other than what woke me up.

My Blackberry is fundamental to the flexible work arrangements that blur my personal and professional lives (see this Stew Friedman post here and my post here).  I also hate having a full inbox, so I like the ability to prune when possible (and react if necessary).  Perhap I occasionally sneak a too-frequent peek at the BB when on mostly personal time; however, luckily my wife is assertive enough to point it out (and tactful enough to not rub it in).

However, when all else fails, I’ve not forgotten where the off button is!

Giving up on Web 2.0 as penance?

Tom Davenport‘s latest post (here) on Harvard Business Online channels the tone of today’s conventional wisdom.  Many commentators on the Panic of 2008 — including Davenport — are invoking the Great Depression and its harsh lessons.  I guess hairshirts and flagellant confraternities will be coming back next.

While I love mortification of the flesh as much as anyone, I think Davenport’s seriously off-track here.  He’s gone gloom-and-doom just as social media is doing some heavy lifting.  An example of Enterprise 2.0 traction, you say?  OK, what does it say when a guy like Michael Krigsman — who is on the IT Project Failures beat, for goodness sake — praises Enterprise 2.0 efforts from SAP (here) and Oracle (here)?

I hate to bad-rap a fellow Babsonian, but maybe Tom needs to get out of Starbucks more…

IT/Business Marriage Counseling

I agree with most of Susan Cramm‘s pieces, but she goes on a bit of a rant on the role of line managers in making IT’s life impossible (here).  While there is at least a grain of truth in her complaints, the IT “can’t do” attitude that infuriates line executives pervades the piece.

IT managers are tired of being treated like high priced waiters serving technology de jour on a moment’s notice.

Perhaps IT managers should stop acting like waiters and order takers for the business. It would be nice if IT wouldn’t “need to study” a request to deploy only somewhat new technology — e.g., Enterprise 2.0 — then come back and say “yes, but”.  Perhaps IT could anticipate what the business needed, for once?

Luke’s business “partners”… in their single-minded pursuit of customers, products and profit [emphasis mine],… simply forgot about IT.

If only IT knew what it’s like to have a single-minded pursuit of those pesky customers, products, and profit.  Not like that’s where their paychecks come from…

Alignment is meant to ensure that the right IT products and services are available to meet business needs with minimal angst for all involved [emphasis mine].

This definition/goal sounds good, but articulates a common IT mistake about defining alignment — avoiding conflict (“yes, but”).  Continue reading

Reviving Failed Ideas and Lost Causes

I liked Pavel Brodzinski‘s comment (here) on my networking post.  His point is right on and I wished I had elaborated on the point myself.  As Pavel notes, coming from the outside with fresh energy can revive previously-lost causes.  I also see some additional benefits/approaches to surfacing “already failed” ideas during your initial networking:

  • As an outsider, you can ask open-ended and naive questions about the failed concept without appearing ignorant.  Also, this approach gets people to talk more openly about what really went wrong.
  • Even if you think it is a great idea and you’ve seen it work, listen to the answers first.  To that end, don’t immediately endorse, complement, or promote the old idea.
  • Finally, listening to the answers is a great way to assess these stakeholders.  While Byham’s article emphasizes the need to establish credibility, credibility is a two-way street.

The ideal benefits from taking the these steps are a perspective on the “real” causes of the previous failure, an understanding of whether or not it may work again, and a map of the stakeholders you’ll have to navigate around.

What is toughness in a leader?

I like John Baldoni’s distinction between exterior and interior toughness (post here) as outlined below:

I am not referring to what’s on the outside (gruff and ready), but rather what is inside the individual (character and resilience). 

The post has a good set of comments as well, so it’s worth reading all the way down.

Finally, IMHO, humility is important because it acknowledges the obvious.  When I don’t recognize and admit mistakes — mistakes that everyone affected see for themselves — I essentially am showing my stakeholders that I’m disconnected from reality. 

It is rare that we’re really fooling anyone about the consequences of our bad or mistaken acts.  Admitting error and making amends ASAP is only common sense.

Networking after moving into a new role

This Harvard Business Online article on networking after a promotion caught my eye (link here).  While it’s pitched to the recently-promoted, it has great advice for anyone moving into a new role.  The piece starts fast:

Most people aren’t naturally networkers. But if you’ve just been promoted or are about to move into a new job, it’s imperative that you start talking to lots of people and make connections right away, so you can acquire crucial information about your new job and succeed early. If you don’t, you might lack the facts you need for a proposal, for example, or you might bring up an idea you think is neat but has failed in the past.

The three tips noted in the piece are just fine.  However, I particularly liked the two insights in the open about fact-gathering and avoiding already-failed ideas.  I’ve made these mistakes before, so I appreciated the reminder of the pain that a little stakeholder identification and planning can prevent.

Networking is definitely an unnatural act for me.  While that isn’t usually a deterrent for me, in this case it means that networking always goes to the end of my to-do list.  My best approach is to target and reach out per the article, then get short chats on my calendar with those folks immediately.  If I procrastinate, all is lost.  Per the article:

[T]he first 30 to 60 days are when networking matters most, because that’s when people are deciding if they can depend on you or if you’re a loser who should never have been hired.

Are labor unions attractive these days?

I was a little perplexed by the title of this post by Rita McGrath (post here).  Perhaps it is simply my temperament and perception of today’s unions.  Even when I was washing dishes and slinging hash, I never only once seriously considered entering a unionized workforce (I had a brush w/ UPS).

I would find it hard to work in a seniority — not performance-based — culture.   The union label on a product used to mean something.  Is still does in highly-skilled trades.  But too many white collar unions have lost the focus on craft and quality; in fact, they seem hostile to it.  Not my cup of tea…

However, I think McGrath has a point about how greed, bailouts, and globalization may well drive employees to try collective action, bargaining, or representation again:

To me, it’s a powerful testament to the laws of unintended consequences and the idea that every action prompts an equal and opposite reaction. If the ways in which large corporations wield power over their people is increasingly seen as unfair or even illegitimate, we can expect a lot more momentum on the part of labor.

Given all that, does the labor movement look more attractive to you these days?

Change now, daydream later

Excellent post (here) on Harvard Business Online by Marshall Goldsmith that tries to answer the question: “What prevents us from making the changes we know will make us more effective leaders?”  His answer is based on follow-ups with participants in Goldsmith’s leadership development courses:

At the end of my sessions, I ask leaders (who have received 360-degree feedback) to follow up with their co-workers and ask for ongoing ideas about how they can continue to become more effective. A year later, about 70% do some version of this recommended follow-up (as reported by their co-workers, not by them); 30% do absolutely nothing.

Why this happens is very familiar to me: my desire to change is side-tracked by procrastination.  The root cause of that procrastination is my desire to have all things in order — aka, perfectionism — before starting the change. 

I have learned a hard lesson trying to help real people change real behavior in the real world. The ‘couple of weeks’ that you are fantasizing about are not going to happen. Look at the trend line. There is a good chance that tomorrow is going to be even crazier than today!

If you want to make real change, ask yourself this tough question: What am I willing to change now? Not ‘in a few months.’ Not ‘when I get caught up.’ Now.  

Read the post and follow the links…

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