Left to our well-honed, pattern-seeking tendencies, we will begin paying attention to those parts of our environment that fit our frames. Just as significant, we will ignore or downplay those parts of our environment that do not fit our frame. Not only is our brilliance unquestioned, it is inappropriately reinforced by our search for evidence, according to John Austin in his book Unquestioned Brilliance: Navigating a Fundamental Leadership Trap.
Fit leaders and fit companies mindfully and intentionally pursue a well-defined course of action that makes them stronger, faster, and more agile over the long run; they engage in rigorous, scientific thinking at all levels of the organization to analyse and solve problems, and they eliminate the fear that shackles employee creativity and liberate employees to close the baps between where they are today and where they want to be tomorrow, according to Daniel Markovitz in his book Building the FIT Organization: Six Core Principles for Making Your Company Stronger, Faster, and More Competitive.
HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2015 provides a handy way for the busy business leader to get an update on new ideas and academic thinking from the past two years on management issues. The featured writers and their ideas are:
- Julian Birkinshaw, on the dangers of importing new management ideas without thinking through their applicability in the particular context of your organization
- Clayton Christensen and Devek van Bever, on how unhelpful scarcity-thinking is causing corporate reluctance to invest in market-creating innovations
- Daniel Goleman, on the need for leaders to cultivate a balance in their attention between inward focus, focus on others, and focus outward
- Roger Martin, on the need to keep strategy uncomfortable, taking risks and facing the unknown, rather than creating detailed risk-reducing grand plans which are ultimately useless
- Tarun Khanna, on how and why management best practices in one country are often inappropriate in another country
- Patty McCord, on the high-trust HR policies used by Netflix, involving management through honest communication and common sense
- W Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, on using the Leadership Canvas analytic tool to discover activities which leaders should eliminate, reduce, raise or create in order to increase employee engagement
- Marc de Swaan Arons, Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed, on the rapidly changing landscape for marketers, with success now requiring the use of customer insight to deliver rich customer experience
- Michael Mankins, Chris Brahm and Gregory Caimi, on the importance of managing an organization’s time as carefully as its capital
- David Garvin, on how the rigorous use of measurement and data underlies a number of management practices at Google
- Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, on the need to focus on potential, rather than just competencies, when selecting the best employees for ever-changing business environments
Peter Drucker’s powerful observations about people and the organisations in which they worked sometimes took the form of deceptively simple truths and astute predictions, according to William Cohen in his book The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World’s Greatest Management Thinker. Most managers do not have the time to trawl through the vast number of books and other publications of the great management guru, so this book is a distillation of 40 key concepts extracted from Drucker’s works.
Financial figures alone do not provide a complete description of an organisation’s health, but there are so many other things which could be measured; how do you decide which measurements are the most important ones to make? Patrick Georges and Josephine Hus assert that any organisation can succeed if it measures and improves only a few carefully selected key performance indicators, in their book Six Figure Management Method: How to Grow Your Business With the Only Six KPIs You’ll Ever Need.
McKinsey consultants, in becoming an indispensable part of government and corporate decision making at the highest levels, have helped invent what we think of as American capitalism and spread it to every corner of the world, according to Duff McDonald in his book The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business. At the same time, McKinsey has been implicated in a striking list of failures.
Effective managing requires some blend of art, craft and science, whether in the person of the manager alone, or else in a management team that works together, according to Henry Mintzberg in his book Simply Managing: What Managers Do – and Can Do Better. The book is described as a condensed version of the author’s earlier book Managing, streamlined for busy managers.
Career choices are often abandoned or regretted, business decisions are frequently flawed, and on the personal front we are not much better at making decisions, according to Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. We have a hard time making good choices. We suffer from biases and irrationality, and when it comes to making decisions our brains are flawed instruments.
Many organizations are poorly structured, use limiting processes, and invest in expensive technologies that constrain their ability to function, rather than enabling it, according to Theodore Panagacos in his book The Ultimate Guide to Business Process Management: Everything You Need to Know and How to Apply It to your Organization. Business Process Management aims to address such problems by offering a standard and scalable solution for managing processes.
Techniques from the clandestine world can help you legitimately succeed in the business world. In particular, classic spy methods are valuable for understanding and manipulating your customers, your competition and your suppliers, according to J C Carleson in her book Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer. The book aims to describe the legal use of intelligence techniques, rather than to promote corporate espionage.