Management 101

OK, you’ve got this organization to “manage” to reach a goal:

PAGE 1 JPEG toupload

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, competencies, and behaviors – who are busily performing their tasks and activities? Or are you going to manage the “Arrows”, representing the delivery of 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 agreements for “deliverables”.

                So… Manage the arrows.  Deliverables Rule!

Question B.

Everybody wants high performance. But what kind of “performance” do you want? There are three kinds of performance, each one observed and measured in different ways:

  • Productivity & Efficiency – You can measure the Productivity of the people and the Efficiency of the processes and activities of production and delivery. Both are measures about what happens inside the Box, but in order to measure them, you have to look at what’s coming into the box (your resources) and what’s coming out of the box (your products, services, and communications).
  • Quantity & Quality – You can measure the Quantity or the Quality of your products, services, and communications as they leave the Box to go to the other Box. Both are measures of your output deliverables themselves, which can only be observed on the Arrows between two Boxes.
  • Effectiveness & Impact – You can measure the Effectiveness or the Impact of your output products, services, and communications. They were produced in your Box and sent over the Arrow into your “user-customer’s” Box. But you can only measure the effectiveness or impact of your outputs by asking the people in your “user-customer’s” Box whether the products, services, and communications they received were effective, or if they had any impact on them. These measures need “feedback”.

Hint 3: There is no “right” answer. You have to really think about what kind of “performance” you care about.

Hint 4: Effectiveness & Impact are more expensive than the first two because you have to communicate with people in another box, do some research, and get useful feedback.

   Leadership speaks the future. Management makes it happen.

Management Recipe:

  1. Clarify your goal.

    What do you want to accomplish, and by when? How and where will you measure the “performance” of your goal?

  1. Identify who else will be involved.

    There will be “other Boxes” playing a role in this accomplishment, and you will need to establish “Arrows” – agreements for deliverables – that connect your Box to theirs. Who are your resource-suppliers? Who are your customers, both internal and external? Are there any collaborators who can help you? Are there any “authorities” who have a say about your work, or your agreements for deliveries, or getting feedback on your products, services, and communications?  You’ll want to get clear on your “performance circle” for every goal.

    Identify the key “deliverables” between you and those “other Boxes”.

    What, exactly, will be going back and forth between your Box and all the other Boxes related to accomplishing your goal? That’s where your resource-suppliers, customers, collaborators, and authorities are working. That’s where your products, services, and communications will go, and where you will get your resources, support, and direction. The answers tell you where to establish agreements for deliverables with each player.

  1.  Manage by communication.

    Communication is the basic unit of management. Create the game with everyone on your “team”. Whether you are heading up a division, department, or project, you want to establish a foundation of good communication with everyone who will be working toward the fulfillment of this goal.

    Every goal creates a playing field for the team. Communicate to establish agreements with each of the other “players”. Get specific about all of the deliverables that need to go back and forth between you. This increases the probability of success.

    Agreements are the engine for performance. Establish a visible scoreboard to communicate the status of each goal’s milestones, agreements for team member assignments, and for deliverables – both coming in and going out – with all other players.

    Tracking results is the engine for management. Establish regular team reviews and updates of the status toward goal accomplishment: assignments, agreements, deliveries, and performance measures. Debrief problems, and celebrate accomplishment.

    Leadership speaks the future. Management makes it happen.



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).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.