Archives for posts with tag: Management


So many books, blog posts and articles have been written about leadership, internal culture and build the team you need for your business. I’ve been thinking about it for years, writing about it and trying to implement many of my findings in my own venture. It’s also very easy to talk about, debate with others and waste your time on it.

My kid has a busy schedule. She has to get up early in the morning to be in school on time, spend all day in school and then go to bed early evening. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for creating things, finding time to think and just be a kid. Over the last few months, she carved out time during the day to just create and think.

After breakfast, she demands half an hour just to play, create things and think. Same happens before she goes to bed.

Maybe it’s that easy:

Give your team the time and space to think and create.

When you look around at your business, is everybody just busy all the time? Does the busy work stifle thinking? How much better would your company perform if you actually give them the freedom to think things through and create based on their thinking?



You just won’t attract the best builders in a command and control environment.

Set them free.

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The majority of companies involved in the Social Web are listening to their communities, some are participating but almost no one is providing the necessary leadership to cultivate, nurture and shape the community engagement over a long period of time.

You can’t leave community leadership to community managers

A key skill companies need to develop over time is a deep comprehension and experience how to lead communities. Without this key skill, brands won’t be successful in the long term with any social strategies. Well-run companies have the skills and knowledge base to lead communities because an enterprise is an internal community with leadership. However, internal communities and corporate have explicit rules and rewards to shape the enterprise and reward behavior.

Leading an external community requires a different skill set

More importantly, social business leaders need to understand what shapes an external community culture. The main shortfall of brands engaging on the Social Web is their view of social platforms as a homogenous culture. Each platform has a different culture, different rules, different ways to engage successfully. What works on Twitter, won’t work on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. Each social platform has unique community culture, which means in plain English: “This is how we do things here.”

Brands need to participate

You can’t understand a community culture without participating. How can you understand a baseball fan when you never went to a game and chanted for your favorite team? How can you understand Grateful Dead fans if you’ve never been to a performance? While we recommend full participation of brands in communities, we also make sure that they understand over time what drives people’s behavior in the community. This deep understanding is the difference between a brand just floating around and a brand leading the community by dipping into the cultural forces that are driving the overarching community culture.

Important pointers for community leadership

– Stories: What are the success stories being told, the myths shared and heroes being admired?

– Games: What are the game mechanics that work within the community and what games are being played?

– Motivation: What motivates the community to participate, collaborate and lead?

– Rewards: What behavior is being rewarded and punished?

Develop co-leaders

A very successful tactic to become a leader in a community is to identify and reward emerging leaders. Empowering other leaders gives a strong signal to the community about yourself: what you value and what kind of participation and engagement you’re willing to support. A pretty standard management practice: Identify and recognize leaders by supporting them.

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As a manager, I don’t watch the clock.

I don’t care if people get their job done in 6 hours. Or 9 hours.

I also don’t care when people come to work. 6am is fine with me. 10am. Noon.

As long as they do their job, are engaged and there’s enough time for the team to collaborate.

A few years back, one of my employees abused my laissez-faire style.

Her lunch breaks were 2.5 hours long.

She came in at 10am and left at 3.

4-5 cigarette breaks.

So I acted like an inexperienced leader.

I came up with new rules: Everybody has to be in the office by 8.30. Nobody leaves before 4pm. Lunch breaks are only 1 hour long.

Out of anger that somebody abused my rather liberal time management style, I punished everybody.

What a mistake.

I should have just talked to her and fixed her problem. Instead, my anger clouded my thinking and I started to believe all my employees were abusing privileges. It was me against the world.

Out of this anger and my clouded head, I punished everybody.

We tend to create rules for many to punish some.

A terrorist tried to light his shoes on fire on a plane. Since then, we all have to take our shoes off.

1 employee spends all his day on Facebook and Twitter. Suddenly, these sites can’t be accessed at work anymore.

A 20-year old with a fake ID drinks a beer and then bar gets fined. The bar posts a sign “We check every ID. NO EXCEPTION.” And a 70-year old has to pull out his ID.

Life happens.

People make mistakes.

People act stupid.

Deal with the specific problem.

Don’t punish everyone for one person’s mistake.


One person in your team has a good idea. And, it’s not the first time.

They share it with your company. The whole company tries to convince each other it’s not a good idea.

Oh boy.

Do you allow that person to follow their gut reaction? They had good ideas before. They had bad ideas before.

Analyzing the past and basing your decision on it seems safe. Relying on your instincts is the only way to to do something unsafe.

Unsafe things turn into Lady Gaga. Old Spice Guy. iPads. Safe things never do.

Running against Hillary Clinton was unsafe. Pay-what-you-want was unsafe. Car Sharing was unsafe.

When you have a good idea, don’t bother trying to convince people looking for a safe solution. Look inside yourself and perform your own gut check. If the ideas passes your own gut verification, go for it.

All the way.


For more than 15 years my father and I were not on speaking terms.

I believed he was a weak person. He didn’t stand up for me when I needed him to. I had this anger and resentment in my mental baggage for more than 20 years.

When I stood at his grave, I realized that distant, somehow fuzzy memories determined my relationship with him. He made many mistakes, that’s for sure. And the memories of these mistakes determined our relationship until the end of time.

How often does that happen to you in your private life? In business?

Way, way, way too often.

You hand an employee a task, they don’t meet your objectives and you conclude: “A: I should never trust this person again. B: I shouldn’t trust anyone.” Two wrong conclusions.

Not everyone will drop the ball. And that person might over-deliver next time. As a manager/leader/mentor, your job is to create an environment where people can perform and do their best work. Share your disappointment with the person and give it another shot. Maybe your assignment was vague, your timeline adjusted to your pace – so many reasons why things can go wrong.

Think more like a parent: Stuff happens, pasta plates get dropped. Clean up the mess, let’s not do it again and move on.

My past determined the future with my father. And we had none.

Don’t make the same mistake.


Image: Courtesy of farm4.static

Transforming an enterprise into a community is consistent with an increasing amount of dissatisfaction with the dominant concept of what a corporation is and who owns it. Community enterprises are created by common purpose rather than a common place. Nobody owns the community. Communities consider members as citizen and not as human resources. Citizen with varied responsibilities as well as rights.

Transforming an enterprise into a community is imperative to allow the system to focus on interaction of all parts and not on separate actions. A community enterprise allows everyone to participate in making decisions that affect them directly. In addition, control is circular, not linear. We don’t recommend eliminating hierarchies because labor must be coordinated in a complex working environment. But hierarchies don’t equal autocracies.

Community Design

Each manager will have a board, consisting of the manager’s supervisor, his subordinates and pertinent stakeholders. Most managers will be part of three levels of boards, interacting with five levels of management. This amount of interactions and access significantly reduces internally generated problems.

The boards are tasked to plan, police themselves, coordinate and integrate with other boards, improve quality of work life and overall performance and, last but not least, approve the board chair.

Boards meet at least once a month. The difference to normal meetings, that often accomplish nothing, is that managers don’t consider them as work interruptions. Instead, board meetings help managers to manage interactions with all stakeholders and facilitate their work. Boards don’t operate under the tyranny of majority, their goal is to operate by consensus. If consensus can’t be achieved, board members are tasked to work under the premise of consensus through experimentation. However, board members have to consent on the success metrics of the test and  a follow-up plan.

The agenda can be set by any member of the board. In the early stages of the enterprise transformation, a facilitator might be used to help the board with the first baby steps. This should be supported with an initial introduction to group processes.

Each board acts independently, can implement any decision if it doesn’t affect any other or the organization as a whole. Managers should ask their boards for advice on decisions they have to make but the responsibility for the decisions is solely with the managers, not the boards.

Empowering all stakeholders compered to empowering a few managers will improve the performance of the enterprise dramatically.

Let’s discuss this further in Part 9.

Previous installations can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.


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“The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.” – Agha Hasan Abedi

Humans are a very diverse species. Each one of us is unique, we all have our strengths and flaws. Surprisingly there are not many variations of basic management categories: Reactive, inactive, proactive and interactive. Let’s briefly evaluate all four of them:

Reactive Management

Run, run, run. And then run more. The reactive approach to a problem is first to identify its cause or source, then try to remove or suppress it. Being reactive implies your action begins after the fact; acting in response to a stimulus or situation, as if simply poised waiting for something to happen. We know, this is never the case. Managers usually feel reactive when they are hit by something they didn’t anticipate.

Organizations in which reactive management is dominant tend to use as their model the oldest and most stable form of organization known, the big family. Like most families, most reactive organizations function as autocratic hierarchies. Ironically, although reactive planning is authorized from the top down, the actual planning is carried out from the bottom up.

Reactive planning is always focused on getting rid of what is not wanted. The problem with that paradigm is that when one gets rid of what one does not want, often one does not get what one wants but gets what one wants even less. However, effective management focuses on getting what one wants, not getting rid of what one does not want. Reactive organizations walk into the future, facing the past, backward.

Inactive Management

We all experienced it: A crisis is unfolding before us and we don’t do anything. We might have good intentions to solve the problem but another, more important crisis is taking all of our attention. A few days later, the initial crisis resolved itself. That’s Garden Eden of inactive management. Unlike the reactivist, who tries to eliminate the cause of a problem, the inactivist settles for suppressing the symptoms. The inactive manager is always in crisis management mode. Our increasingly complex world increases the numbers and severity of crisis. That keeps the inactive manager very busy trying to prevent change. His attention is occupied keeping people busy doing nothing.

You’ll find inactive managers in organizations whose survival is independent of its performance. Many government agencies come to mind, subsidized and regulated organizations. They tend to change when somebody imposes their will on them.

Proactive Management

Proactive management implies that your response is preceding the action. Creating a solution before being requested to have one. Anticipating what is needed and having it ready. This seems like a great position to be in; however you need to know what to be ready for. You cannot anticipate everything. Proactive managers predict and prepare, that is, they attempt to predict the future, then establish the objectives they want to attain, and finally create a plan to get from where they are to where they want to be. Forecasting is a major preoccupation of proactive managers.

The proactive manager believes there are a few problems that technology can’t solve, the reactive manager tends to think they can only be solved by a softer, human approach. Unfortunately for proactive managers, as the rate of change in the environment accelerates and the environment becomes more complex, their ability to forecast accurately deteriorates. Many proactive plans are never completely implemented because errors in the forecasts on which they are based become apparent, nullifying the plan. In addition, it is very apparent that the objective of planning should not be to prepare for a future that is largely out of our control, but to control that future as much as possible by developing mechanisms/products that have the most effect on our futures.

Interactive Management

The objective of management should be to create as much of the future as is possible. Implementing an interactive management style means managers get involved with people without there being a problem or a situation. They understand what’s happening around them. The more a manager knows about the whole organizational system, the goals of each person, the more successful the organization and the manager will be. Interactive management asks executives to very involved with the system environment, thereby giving them access to a myriad of insights and knowledge. It allows an organization to maximize their resource – they don’t have to wait for events, overplan for possibilities or jump the gun.

Implementing an interactive management system doesn’t mean the organization will never be blindsided. However, when the unexpected happens, management will have a better sense of how urgent the matter is because they live and experience the priorities of the business. They will know who to deal with so the situation can be resolved with a minimum of resources and effort.

There are three major characteristics of Interactive Planning and Management: a) Interactive Management plan backward from where they want to be to where they are. b) Interactive planning, management and execution is a continuous process. The process is the goal, not the final plan. Because there is no more final plan. c) Every stakeholder  is part of the collaborative planning process. This increases the chances of successful implementations dramatically since every stakeholder has a vested interest in success.

Because the principal product of interactive management is engagement throughout the organization (Planning, Implementation and Optimization), and because it requires as many stakeholders as possible to participate, it requires a significant change in the role of management. They are no longer required to spend the majority of their time preparing plans. Instead, their role is to encourage and facilitate, educate and advise.

In Part 4, we’ll be talking about the interactive planning process in detail.

For reference, Part 1 (Systems Thinking) can be found here and Part 2 (Systems) here.