Posts Tagged ‘management’

Is “can’t do” BAD? Is “can do” GOOD?

Friday,1 August, 2008

Thoughts on an upside-down world . . . . . . . . .

Are you, and others, seeing the ‘real you’, or just a mere reflection?

Surely it’s obvious that being bad at something will hold us back?

Yes, well – walking past a building whose roof was being repaired, a colleague turned to me to complain about the behaviour of the scaffold workers. “It’s obvious that if they do that it will be dangerous. Can’t they just see that . . . . . . . ?”

“But” I replied, “you’re assuming that they are endowed with sufficient imagination to predict what might happen in the future. Do you think that anyone with that amount of imagination, would want to work at that sort of height?”

My colleague had to admit that having a well developed imagination could be a problem for some jobs – in other words, being bad at something could be a benefit!

In the world of business management, some people lack either the analytical skills or the temperament to manage quantities of detail. This trait can result in them concentrating on the over-view, and then being seen to be ‘strategic’. And senior managers need to be strategic. Another example of when being bad at something could be a benefit!

And surely it’s obvious that being good at something will help our careers to advance?

Yes well – in years past, many people who were really good at their jobs were rarely given the chance to advance: they were called ‘secretaries’. They were so good at doing their job, (including ‘propping up’ their bosses), that they were rarely encouraged to break free and progress.

In the world of business management, those people who are skilled at handling detail can be similarly disadvantaged. Their skills can be seen as so valuable that they are not encouraged to develop. And because they are good at detail, it may also be assumed that they are incapable of strategic thinking – without ever being given the chance to prove otherwise.

If you want to break out of this, it’s worth working hard on the fact that ‘what got you to where you are now, might not be enough to get you to where you want to be’.

It can be important to think these things through – make sure that you, and others, can see the ‘real you’, rather than a mere reflection!

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Mistakes are GOOD! Well, sometimes . . . . . .

Friday,25 July, 2008

These days we’re always being encouraged to innovate – to do things differently and improve.

Sometimes when we try to do things differently, we make mistakes. It seems that making mistakes is an essential part of innovation.

Sometimes the mistakes can be better than our first intentions! In 1928 Alexander Fleming was working with a bacterial culture which became contaminated and died. This ‘mistake’ led to the discovery of penicillin, which has saved countless lives ever since.

But unfortunately, sometimes the mistakes just make things worse, and then we have to learn from our mistakes and try again – what used to be called ‘learning by trial and error’.

In these days of extended accountabilities and media spotlights, risk is invariably seen as bad.

But if we can’t make mistakes, won’t we expose ourselves to the biggest risk of all – the risk of reducing our capacity to innovate and improve?

If we can’t learn from making mistakes, are we making a rod for our own backs?

So why don’t companies come right out and say “It’s ok to make mistakes”?

Of course there would have to be safeguards, but how would you feel if your employer said it’s ok to make mistakes:

  • Provided they are honest mistakes, made with the best of intentions and not because you were just being sloppy or negligent;
  • Provided you take responsibility for your mistakes;
  • Provided you learn from your mistakes, taking steps to make sure you don’t make the same mistake again; and
  • Provided you help your colleagues learn from your mistakes, sharing your experience with them in order to reduce the risk of them ever making the same mistake that you made.

If your company had a ‘Mistakes Policy’ like that, would you feel supported, more able to innovate and improve?

If this wouldn’t work for you, what would you need?

Politics, Marketing, Leadership & Management

Saturday,7 June, 2008

In the UK we have had experience of partnership working, involving people from different political parties, as well as involving people who are not involved in party politics. Things go well, and often a measure of agreement can be reached on difficult issues, UNTIL we get near election times. Then the reality of party politics requires that politicians exaggerate their differences because of the need to get elected ahead of the ‘other lot’ – using the language of the market place, they have to grow “market differentiation”.


But at the same time as the media demands conflict and differentiation between the parties, the media analysis and debate often narrows down the options available – leading to arguments about who came up with what ideas.

And if this wasn’t difficult enough, sometimes we may be in danger of Leadership and Management becoming inverted:

* Leadership – often defined as “doing the right thing”; and
* Management – usually “doing the thing right”.

Is Government, and its legislative processes, becoming too Managerial – focusing on “doing the thing right”?

Should Government have more trust in managers – so that our leaders can concentrate on making sure that we are “doing the right thing”?

How does this all look from your viewpoint?

If any of these concerns are valid, what does it mean for the future of politics and our society?

And what does all this mean for partnership working between politicians and non-politicians?

Of course, asking the questions is easier than giving the answers – that takes more than one brain!

Do share your thoughts . . . . . . . . .