i disagree with everything you just said.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

who knew harvard knew anything about good business practices?

on the recommendation of a coworker, i recently read an article in the october issue of the harvard business review: "seven surprises for new ceos." mentioned here not because i plan on becoming a ceo anytime soon — there's a thankless job — but because it's a primer on how to be an effective manager at any level, since the ceo is the ultimate manager in any org.

the main takeaway, as the bizskool kids would say, is this: the best managers are those who can enthusiastically endorse whatever gets put in front of them. successful management being about trust and guidance, as opposed to command and control. simple as that. the worst are those who confuse assertion with authority: they get involved in every decision, interfering because they think that's what managers do. whereas the best hire people they believe in, communicate strategy and goals to them, and make themselves available for advice and input when required.

doing more by doing less. fascinating, and obvious on the face of it — who hasn't had that awful experience working under a micromanager?

myself, it's been a long time since i've been managed. it's the reason i always give for starting companies: "i don't like working for other people." but it turns out i just don't like being badly managed. this kind of management, that's something i can live with, and something to aspire to.


Blogger Peter said...

When I was Creative Director at Epinions, this was the lesson hardest for me to learn. It's particularly tough in a design management role, where you're hired for your "vision," your "creativity." You feel compelled to put your thumbprints on the work of your staff, to show you're still "in charge." Learning to just let the good work pass through, unscathed, was perhaps the best part of my management experience there.

12/08/2004 6:50 AM

Blogger Jim said...

i think all managers should force their charges to watch midget porn with them, but i may just be scarred from deja.

12/19/2004 3:55 PM

Blogger janice said...

In AP's new conceptual org chart (for lack of a better description), the senior management is shown at the bottom -- to show that managers are there to facilitate the work of the core team. The tools that they'll do this with are budgets and plans and a lot of conversations with customers and coworkers.

Ultimately, the whole point of management is to make things go better for the people making and selling things. In any company (for profit or otherwise), success is fun. When things go well for the team, they'll make more money and have more resources at their disposal, while the company gets stronger and more successful.

The HBR article alludes to this (by taking the hubris out of the ceo job description), but it doesn't go all the way to describe managers as facilitators. This bottom-up vision of management seems obvious to me, so why haven't we heard about it before? Is this a revolution in management theory?

12/26/2004 11:40 AM


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