Saturday, September 8, 2007

"First do no harm" and other epigrams for managers

I have at various times-as have many others-struggled to get a project off the ground, or completed on deadline, when some random manager with no stake in the completion of the work demands changes to the project that negatively affect the timeliness, quality, or scope of the project. At these times I mutter bad words about the general cluelessness of the random manager in question, make the necessary changes in order to satisfy the gatekeeper, and push on with the project, only partially prepared to answer questions later about why the project was late or why the quality of the work was so compromised.

I enjoy reading Bob Sutton's stuff on the management and the corporate world. I've blogged about his excellent book The No Asshole Rule. One of his great strengths is the ability to write these perfect little epigrammatic phrases that resonate strongly with anyone who has spent significant time industry and still operates with some self awareness. To the aforementioned example he states as one of his core beliefs:

He goes on to state that "innovation often happens despite rather than because of senior management." He illustrates his statements with anecdotes from his own experience, and solicits others to contribute their own stories. Reading his take on the corporate life vindicates a lot of opinions I've formed about working for companies but was never able enough to clearly articulate.

Surely his beliefs about "leadership by getting out of the way" seem like heresy coming from a professor of management at Stanford, but many of Sutton's opinions challenge the conventional wisdom on the role of managers in companies. That's why he's worth reading.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi...just found your blog browsing through bob suttons website. You write extremely well...I look forward to more posts.
best, GL HOFFMAN, Minneapolis, WHAT WOULD DAD SAY (http;//