A few thoughts popped up in my mind when I was reading Hello Laziness, Why Hard Work Doesn’t Pay by Corinne Maier (Published by Orion Books, UK, 2005). As the author puts it, this is a cynical book without apology. While I do not necessarily agree with all the arguments in the book, I found a section titled Decoding Business particularly interesting and relevant. This section decodes the fundamentals of any business to five basic messages, which can shed light to running projects and leading departments.
Below, I use the main subtitles from the section. The commentary under the subtitles are my interpretations, which are typically different than those of Ms. Maier’s.
Reverse The Signs
Ms. Maier argues that “the more a large company talks about something, the less there is of it.” I would also argue that the dominant subject in a company is in the spotlight, this is where the focus and opportunities are. As someone once said, if you focus on the problem too much, you become part of the problem. Rather, it is healthy and productive to focus on the opportunities. If, for example, the company talk is all about timeliness of deliverables, there is no mistake about where to focus and where to make improvements. As a manager, your role is to ensure that your people know what is important for the organization and deliver results to achieve them.
Don’t be Afraid to Go Round in Circles
As long as you and the organization learns from this experience. Many things in business are cyclical. We all re-learn through our own experience what others learned earlier. However, there has to be a contribution to the greater knowledge of the organization. Otherwise, going in circles does not add to the job satisfaction of the individuals nor does it contribute to the advancement of the organization.
Distinguish Stupidity from Downright Lies
OK, the title is a bit harsh but I think we all know what this means. In my opinion, people typically do not act stupidly but may appear so. In their mind, they are trying to meet an objective. The purpose of management is to ensure that the objective is a common one among the team members. In the rare case of downright lies, the action needs to be swift and decisive.
We all live with constraints; resources, time, budget, you name it. And, we are constantly challenged to get to the end faster, better, cheaper. Getting caught in this circle only makes things worse for the people you lead, putting them and you into a downward spiral. Get real, say it the way it is, and be prepared to modify your plans while identifying the risks in doing so. Take your bold steps with eyes wide open.
Keep Things in Perspective
One very common mistake is to get too focused on one’s own goals and objectives and forgetting about the greater goal of the organization. What good is it if one department meets its budget while causing the company to spend more in other areas? This sounds obvious but many managers only focus on what they are responsible for. Take, for example, a development team that delivers a product within cost and schedule and hands over to manufacturing a nightmare. In today’s world, organizational interactions are complex and the management’s behavior needs to address this complexity.