I’ve made a strategic decision. Despite feedback from Matt Merrigan that he will forever abandon ‘Confessions of a Consultant’ if I mentioned anything about dogs again, I’m taking the risk. That’s the level of courage you need when blogging (Matt will probably forgive me anyway).
What’s in a Name? We couldn’t agree on a name for our new dog. Everyone in the house (5 people) had ‘pet’ ideas. So, we decided to manage this process scientifically, distributing the following voter cards.
Vote 1,2,3 in order of your choice
After a rigorous process, scrutinized by the internal audit department of Tandem Consulting, the name Harvey came out on top (yes, even though it wasn’t on the list). My eldest daughter Amie, simply took an executive decision and that was that.
Management by Staff Survey: In business organizations, the necessary conditions for participative change are not always in place. Forced change is typically used when time is short, key interest groups continue to oppose change (e.g. at the end of an elongated negotiations period) or radical change is vital to survival. Lets use an extreme example to make the point.
Pilot’s Decision: Let’s assume that you are a passenger on a commercial flight from Lisbon to Dublin and a technical problem emerges during the flight. Would the pilot conduct a quick passenger survey to see what they think should be done? Perhaps have a vote on the best alternative airport to land, one which would be least inconvenient or have some great duty-free shopping? Isn’t it important to get ‘buy in’ from passengers who could be future customers of the airline? The suggestion is absurd. In these circumstances we expect, top-down decision making – using the criterion of ‘safety first’. There is no democracy at 30,000 feet, nor is any expected. Pilots have a clear instruction. Aviate. Navigate. Communicate. In that order. In similar vein, an organization, which is facing a ‘clear and present danger’, may also need strong (sometimes unilateral) leadership to avoid closure. The Chief Executive role is similar to the role of a pilot in this regard. Both are responsible for the continued ‘safety’ of the organization and this should dominate their thinking.
In contrast, in an organization, which is not under immediate threat, engaging staff around the co-creation of a better future (e.g. naming the dog) is often the best way forward. Engaging the workforce usually makes sense in terms of allowing people to put their fingerprints on a change process and become active participants. But this method is not always available. Depending on the criticality of the circumstances, a top-down or ‘forced’ change strategy may be entirely appropriate. Too often we see examples where management teams confuse ‘means’ (process) with ‘ends’ (results). You need to stay neutral on the means – selecting the method, which will deliver the best result for the organization. Don’t get too locked into the ‘Management by Staff Survey’. Trust your instinct. Sometimes you just need to call it! Henceforth to be known as the ‘Harvey Principle’.
PS Lighter Note: Did you hear about the person who was agnostic, dyslexic and an insomniac? He sat up all night wondering if there was a DOG!
Subject: Clever words for clever people! (from Andrew O Connell; he must do no work at all!)
ARBITRAITOR: A cook that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonald
BERNADETTE: The act of torching a mortgage
BURGLARIZE: What a crook sees through
AVOIDABLE: What a bullfighter tries to do
EYEDROPPER: Clumsy ophthalmologist
CONTROL: A short, ugly inmate.
COUNTERFEITER: Workers who put together kitchen cabinet
ECLIPSE: What an English barber does for a living
LEFT BANK: What the bank robbers did when their bag was full of money
HEROES: What a man in a boat doe
PARASITES: What you see from the Eiffel Tower
PARADOX: Two physicians
PHARMACIST: A helper on a farm
POLARIZE: What penguins see through
PRIMATE: Remove your spouse from in front of TV
RELIEF: What trees do in the spring
RUBBERNECK: What you do to relax your wife
SELFISH: What the owner of a seafood store does
SUDAFED: Brought litigation against a US government official
Check our website http://www.tandemconsulting.ie or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.