Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Management lessons contd.

Learning by analogy:

Managers of self-organizing entities learn by looking at the environment, finding underlying patterns, and remembering the patterns they encounter. They learn to recognize these patterns even when they’re distorted or incomplete. With a big enough library of patterns learned through experience, they can guess what to do with any unique, one-off patterns they encounter. If they can figure out how current situations or problems are similar to previous ones, then they can improve planning by looking up a general plan for solving a range of similar problems and applying some or all of the general plan to the specific problem.

Staying focused:

Traditionally, we’ve looked for elegant solutions that achieve powerful results with a minimum of irrelevant complication. Today, we have to live with adaptive challenges - problems without any apparent solution. “Kobe Bryant is so good because his ability to remain relaxed and focused in the midst of chaos is unsurpassed,” according to the LA Laker's coach, Phil Jackson. Detatchment results in clarity. As the martial arts demonstrate, it allows people to accomplish more, becoming fast on their feet and using more force with less effort. Iraqi veterans report that once they accept they're likely to be killed, they relax. As a result, they're more attentive to what's happening around them which, paradoxically, makes them less likely to be killed.

Providing active leadership:

A leader is the one who persists in saying, “We’re going the wrong way,” even as others are saying, “We’re making excellent time.” Leaders express a strong point of view; as Tom Peters once said, “They’re tough suckers.” Leaders need integrity, balance, and judgement. They have to have the ability to persuade and help others to change. Good leaders liberate the leader in others. They reflect people’s innermost hopes and beliefs in a public way. They have an infectious enthusiasm that causes people to do more than they would otherwise do. Great leaders spot seemingly unrelated things and bundle them together into an actionable proposition. Leaders must have character. According to General Norman Schwarzkopf, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”

Developing broad interests and capabilities:

A poet must embrace many tasks, not the least of which is making all the parts of a poem fit together. The challenge is not just to create a memorable turn of phrase, but to be true to the essence of the poem as a whole. Systems thinking involves an understanding of the connectedness of different parts of a business to one another and to the environment so that the full pattern of change becomes clearer. It takes a multitude of disciplines to master solutions that will win. Todays experts are the ones who can see or find out how things relate, not those with the most facts. They have value because they can show others what’s significant. Their expertise is less about having content and more about knowing how to help people look. Managers need to think in terms of whole systems, seeing their business as part of a wider environment. Companies must look beyond their own communities to find new ideas that will prevent employees, partners and customers from defecting.

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