One of the things we say in writing circles is that if you´re always reading about how to write or going to workshops on how to write, then maybe you´re not doing enough of the writing part. The same can go for managing. If you´re always trying to find ways to manage and reading up on every management fad, then you lose momentum in what you´re supposed to be doing on a daily basis-managing of course.
But those fads and even the strategies that have long shelf lives are awfully hard to resist. After all, the authors and creators of these management methods offer so many tempting promises: get your people to work harder, create foolproof teams, etc., etc. But a promise, any promise, depends first on the actual delivery of that promise and then successful implementation of the promise, which, of course, has a lot to do with YOU.
There´s nothing inherently wrong with evaluating various management practices, even ideas-in-the-making. But when business owners can´t make up their minds and jump from one strategy to the other people can become confused. Management isn´t a buffet after all. So why do we do that-go from one thing to the next, squander opportunities, and, in general, stop paying attention to what needs to be done today? Well, sometimes it´s just plain procrastination. I´m a master at that when it comes to cleaning up my home office. Just ask my family and friends who´ve seen it for themselves. Other times we really and truly believe that the next best thing is just that. But the next best thing might not be right for your company. Admitting that, however, can take some courage and in these competitive, worrisome times, that can be a challenge. Just because everyone else at the conference table is nodding their heads in some telepathic agreement (meaning no one really knows what anyone is talking about) doesn´t mean that you have to go along with the pack.
Another problem (and I know I sound like a broken record or in today´s parlance a scratched CD) is that these fads are communicated as the be-all, end-all answers to all our problems. Change management, corporate diversity, getting close to the customer, and blah, blah, blah. Okay, but what do these phrases mean and by the way is anyone questioning anything here? I´m a big believer in questioning, always questioning the status quo. But just because something is new and splashed across the bestseller lists doesn´t mean that the contents of whatever-a book, a keynote, a PBS special on inspiring your employees-are going to help your company succeed. Again, it takes courage to ask questions and gather information to find out if, indeed, something is worth trying. It´s about the courage to question something but also the courage to face the consequences of the asking. You know the scene: everyone is reveling in some fresh approach and the celebrating is just so fabulous and then somebody (Does this sound familiar? Emperor´s new clothes, anyone?) says, "Wait! What about . . . ?" and the music stops and people are no longing chatting and everyone looks horrified. Why didn´t anyone think of THAT? And "that" could be anything-the budget that´s gone up in smoke, the competitor who´s about to launch your one-of-a-kind widget before you, etc. etc.
Next time: more about how to focus on management basics without neglecting new developments.