Friday, September 12, 2008

Managers and Leaders

The FT's Management Blog describes this post by Stanford's Bob Sutton as "Essential Reading". I found it amazing and worrying because what he says should be so obvious that that it should go without saying. That the FT considered it "Essential Reading" suggests that Bob Sutton and they agree that most managers need remedial reading. They are probably right.
Some leaders see their job as just coming up with big and vague ideas, and treat engaging in conversation about the details of those ideas or the details of implementation as mere management work that is "beneath" them, as things for "the little people to do." Moreover, this distinction also seems to be used a reason for leaders to avoid the hard work of learning about the technologies their companies use and the people that they lead and to make decisions without considering the roadblocks and constraints that affect the cost and time line, and even if it is possible to implement their grand decisions and big ideas.
And God knows this happens
I've had some conversations with project managers who have been assigned tasks by naive and overconfident leaders -- things like implementing IT systems and building software. And when they couldn't succeed because of absurd deadlines, tiny staffs, small budgets, and in some cases, because it simply wasn't technically possible to do what the leaders wanted, they were blamed.
Postscipt: Who would have guessed that
the four volume Encyclopedia of 2120 pages long, weighs about 15 pounds, and costs a whopping $640 on Amazon

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