Tag: Management (home)

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.

permalink source: Henry Ford
tags: Management

Studying and imitating only surviving companies, especially the most successful ones, can lead to flawed and dangerous conclusions about what are the best and safest practices. For instance, companies that use riksy, unusual practices perform either much better or much worse than average, especially compared to those that do what most other companies do. But "if only the best, not the worst, performers are observed, performance will seem to be associated with strategies that are far more likely to kill a company than to result in superior performance." (quote is from Denrell, Vicarious Learning)

permalink source: Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, 37
tags: Wisdom, Management

Q: Most organizations try to simplify and streamline. But you seem to say that organizations should become more complicated. A: It's the law of requisite variety, which says that if you want to make sense of a complex world, you've got to have an internal system that is equally complex. A good example is the Naskapi Indians of Labrador. Their problem is where to hunt for caribou. The hunter holds the shoulder blade of a caribou over a fire until it develops cracks. Then somebody reads those cracks to see where the caribou are likely to be. The wisdom of this practice is that it randomizes the hunter's behavior, making it harder for the caribou to learn where the hunter is likely to be. It also ensures that some areas don't become overhunted. The translation should be clear to people running businesses. In fact, there are examples in Asian management practices of ancient rituals being given considerable stature.

permalink source: Karl Weick, Complicate Yourself, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.04/weick.html
tags: Chance, Complexity, Management

Q: Problems are more complex, but we also have more "knowledge workers" for dealing with them. Management philosopher Peter Drucker says that knowledge workers can't be supervised. Do you agree? A: Back in 1973, the third Skylab crew had a tight schedule of experiments to run. NASA kept leaning on them to take on more experiments. The crew got more behind, more overloaded, so it turned off the microphone for 24 hours and spent some time reading and looking out the window. This says something about how companies blend control and autonomy. People are better able to get complex assignments done when given more discretion within a framework of common values.

permalink source: Karl Weick, Complicate Yourself, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.04/weick.htm
tags: Silence, Organization, Stress, Management

Recruit People Better Than You

Each of the 217 times David Ogilvy opened a new office for Ogilvy & Mather he'd leave a set of Russian nesting dolls on the desk of the incoming manager. When the manager removed the top half from the largest of these bowling pin-shaped dolls, he or she would find a slightly smaller doll inside. This would continue until the manager came to the tiniest doll and retrieved from its interior what looked to be the note from a fortune cookie: "If each of us hires people smaller than ourselves, we shall become a company of midgets. But if each of us hires people bigger than ourselves, we shall become a company of giants. – David Ogilvy."

permalink source: MondayMorningMemo from the Wizard of Ads for 11/5/2007
tags: Security, Management, Recruiting