Management – Where to Start?

OK, you’ve got this organization to “manage”.

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Two start-up questions + Four hints + One management recipe:

     Question A.  What are you going to manage? Are you going to manage the “Boxes” – the people and their motivations and behaviors busily performing their tasks and activities – or are you going to manage the “Arrows” – the products, services, and communications that will be delivered between the Boxes?

           Hint 1: People do not like being managed.

           Hint 2: People can get behind the idea of managing the deliverables.

           So… Manage the arrows. Deliverables Rule!

   Question B.  What kind of “Performance” are you looking for? There are three kinds of performance, and they are observed or measured in different ways:

  • Productivity-Efficiency (of producing products, services, and communications)
  • Quantity-Quality (of products, services, and communications)
  • Effectiveness-Impact (of delivered products, services, and communications)

           Hint 3: There is no “right” answer. You have to really think about what result you want.

           Hint 4: Answer “c” is more expensive because you have to get feedback from other people.

   Management Recipe:

     1. Identify the Deliverables– What deliverable products, services, and communications need to move between groups in order to achieve your big-picture objectives?

          Deliverables are the basic units of performance.

     2. Communicate to Create Agreements with Senders and Receivers– Whoever sends you needed resources, and whoever receives your products, services, and communications, those are the people and groups to establish productive relationships with. Use The Four Conversations to make good agreements with them.

          Conversation is the basic unit of management.

     3. Manage the Agreements – It’s all about the Arrows. What, exactly, will be delivered? Who is responsible for producing it; who is responsible for delivering it? To whom will it be delivered? Where is that person or group located? When will it be delivered? Why is that product, service, or communication important to a larger goal? An agreement includes those specifics, and more if needed to ensure success.

          Agreements (for deliverables) are the engine for performance.


Jeffrey and Laurie Ford’s book, The Four Conversations: Daily Communication That Gets Results was named Best Management Book of 2009.  It is a practical easy-to-use method for improving workplace communications (although it works at home too).

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