Manage Me, Myself, and I

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    This Episode: How to sort through your ideas to find actual good ones. Plus, why measuring may not be as useful as you think, and how facing adversity creates growth.

    Drucker vs Heisenberg

    Peter Drucker once said “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

    There are only three problems with this statement.

    1. He didn’t actually say it
    2. It’s wrong
    3. It’s dangerous

    The first point is a reminder of what should probably become a law of misinformation – the more distinguished the person attached to a quote is, the less likely it is that they actually said it.

    But, regardless of its provenance why am I saying the statement is wrong? Well, assuming we mean a quantitative measure, there are things we manage all the time we cannot measure. Think of parenting as an example. If you are a parent, you probably don’t use quantitative measures to figure out if your kids are growing up to be good people, but you are constantly performing management activities to ensure they do.

    And lastly, why do I think it’s dangerous? Because living too closely by this mantra causes the environment, we are attempting to manage to change, sometimes in dramatic, unpredictable and undesirable ways. As the physicist Werner Heisenberg didn’t say either (but probably should have) “If you measure it, you change it”. Connecting measurement and management often causes us to focus obsessively on driving results that are easy to measure, to the detriment of things that are difficult to measure with precision.

    A good example of this happens often in high schools, where an obsessive focus on specific metrics (usually from school leadership and/or inspectors) leads to the school ignoring more intangible results. The result of all this can be disillusioned teachers, and students falling out of love with school.

    Businesses are not immune from this either. As KPIs have become more mainstream, many businesses are unintentionally shifting management focus towards easily measurable things, and as a result neglecting anything that a number can not easily represent.

    I’ve seen this a lot in the management of teams. It is quite difficult to measure how individuals make teams better, so instead many managers focus on the overall output of the team, or just the individual output of each employee in the team. That sounds like a good compromise until valuable team members tire of not being recognized and revert to selfish behaviors, or just choose to leave.

    Does this mean you shouldn’t measure things? Not at all. But it does mean that you need to invest extra attention to the intangibles, and being ok with imprecise measurements of them, as imprecise measures are better than no measure at all. As Heisenberg understood, uncertainty is part of reality.


    On Managing Yourself

    A few years back, long before the birth of BillionMinds, I was wandering through an airport and bought “On Managing Yourself” from the Harvard Business Review. It was an interesting read then, but picking it up again recently, I realized what a great supplemental information there is in is for people going through the BillionMinds program, or even just regular consumers of this newsletter. If you decide to pick up a copy, pay particular attention to the chapter on how resilience works. It shows how closely resilience is connected to adaptability, and why it is so vital in today’s uncertain business climate.

    Ideation Nation

    Video Length: 2 mins 28 secs

    A huge amount is written on how to spark creative thought, but actually as humans it’s something we are naturally pretty good at given the right surroundings. For most people, all you need is a change of scene (say a bike ride or a long bath) some energy, and a bit of separation from your current work environment.

    The larger problem that most of us have is figuring out if an idea is worth spending extra time in to turn it into reality. So, this week my animated twin is looking into exactly that. See if he helps you prioritize your ideas.

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