Tom Peters: 80% good, 20% overboard

Tom Peters has a list on how to lead during what he calls “weird” times (post here, also read the comments here).  As always, he’s thought-provoking.  My biggest concern is that folks like to cherry-pick from Tom without understanding that the points in his “lists” often build on or reinforce each other. 

With that caveat, here is Tom’s list.  My comments are below in bold.

  1. Be conscious in the Zen sense. Think about what you are doing more than usual. Think about how you project.  (Crossderry: The last is critical at these times.)
  2. Meet daily, first thing, with your leadership team—to discuss whatever, check assumptions. Perhaps meet again late afternoon. Meetings max 30 minutes. (Crossderry: All good, harder for me to implement in a global team.)
  3. If you are a “big boss,” use a private sounding board—check in daily. (Crossderry: Interesting… hadn’t thought of that.)
  4. Concoct scenarios by the bushel, test ‘em, play with ‘em, short-term, long-term, sane, insane. (Crossderry: Too many leaders think that this means “just throw s*** against the wall” by rearranging everything or withdrawing to a bunker to do scenario planning.  Prime example of a topic that gets cherry-picked from a list. If you aren’t doing this w/ managing by walking around [MBWA] and working the phones, experts, customers, vendors, etc., you’re missing the point.)
  5. MBWA. Wander. Sample attitudes. Visible but not frenzied.  (Crossderry: The last is critical at these times.)
  6. Work the phones, chat up experts, customers, vendors. Seek enormous diversity of opinion.  (Crossderry: Oh yeah, no time to head for the bunker!) 
  7. “Over”communicate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Crossderry: Yup.)
  8. Exercise—encourage your leadership team to double up on their exercise.  (Crossderry: This verges on “double plus good” Motivation-speak.  How about “If you don’t exercise, start; if you’re not exercising enough, do more; if you’re already exercising enough, don’t stop.”)
  9. Underscore “excellence in every transaction.”    (Crossderry: You betcha… and it’s a nice loop back to point 1.)

Hat tip: Bas de Baar

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3 Responses

  1. A good list, and your summaries help. For point number two I have found that standup meetings are very good for the purpose of gathering summaries/assumptions. The idea is that everyone (the entire team) is standing during the meeting, and each person reviews what was done yesterday, what will be done today, and obstacles that person faces. These meetings do not last beyond five minutes with teams of four to five people. If your team is larger, there is another version of these meetings that has the same idea.

    I have found, though, that the stand up is difficult to hold if you are not colocated.

  2. Thanks for the comment… the meeting boundaries inherent in agile approaches make such approaches very attractive to me. SAP even uses SCRUM when formulating strategy. We can work around some of the limitation of virtual teams with measures that promote meeting mindfulness. Even a simple webcam or chat interaction on Webex, et al, helps get past the “disconnection” that a phone-only meeting brings.

    Another tip I’ve seen is to have the meeting in a room that’s slightly too small. Being less-than-comfortable gets all focused on the business rather than the pastries and coffee.

  3. I like the small room idea. I’ll try the video chat, I feel it may work for me.

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