Don’t Forget the Overlap.

One of the best and most usable graphs I have run across in all the books and reference materials is the graph below. This graph is full of information, so lets pull apart a few areas that will help you know and in the future. Each department, division or company must depend on having the right people in the right place, doing the right tasks, and controlling their area of assignment. In the best companies, people are providing work that corresponds to the future and direction of the company. Front-line staff work on daily tasks that affect a week’s worth of work. CEO’s must look into the future, at least 10-15 years, and decide on the vision and direction of the company. If someone in the line-up is missing, you can see what short or long-term assignments will be missing. The best running companies ensure that great minds are aggressively pursuing daily to multiple year activities and written visions. Progress comes at all levels, so each is extremely important to the overall success.

An important visual on the graph is the small overlap that occurs for each position. Think about your current job and how you learn from the person above, or instruct to the person below. Wisdom, experience, and personal growth, let alone the company flexibility, all extend from this area. As I have said before, it is everyone’s responsibility to teach or mentor. This graph shows the connectivity and importance of doing just that.

Action:
1. Review the graph and think of organizations that have or not have people situated to encompass daily thru the long-term. Can you think of gaps in their strategic initiatives?
2. How does your organization line up with the graph? Where are you and what knowledge and thought process will you need to move up?
3. Once you find “you” on the graph, ask yourself if you grow with the overlap to your supervisor/mentor? And, do you develop those below you?

Advertisements

Don’t just think outside the box, create new ones

“Just think outside the box” a manager says to a team member.

When was the last time you had your own thought for the company, or even better yet, for yourself?

Thinking outside the box to us means taking a step back and not letting the limitations of the current influence ALL your work.

Another way to look at this is being maximally creative.

Can you step back far enough from your current activities and thoughts to really brainstorm outside the box?

Unfortunately, this can be quite hard for many people to do. We get so caught up in the assumptions and limitations of our day-to-day work that it can be very difficult to get outside this “box”. There is also a significant amount of risk in proposing “outside the box” ideas. Will they be accepted? Rejected? Laughed at?

There is a quote from Robert H Schuller that asks, “What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

In our opinion the risk and associated fear of failure are both functions of the “box”. As long as your ideas are tied to the current situation, even if they’re outside it, there will be this inherent stress.

Only by breaking from the limitations and assumptions of the current situation can you experience the free-flowing creativity that generates true innovation. Therefore we say:

“Don’t just think outside the box, create new boxes!”

How?

Action: Flipping Assumptions Exercise

One way to create a new box is to brainstorm as if your situation was the exact opposite.

For example:

Issue: We need more revenue
Elements of the current box: 
  1. Our organization is an academic non-profit
  2. There are many layers of bureaucracy to work through for new projects
  3. There is very little money for new-project development
Elements of the opposite box:
  1. Our organization is a for-profit corporation
  2. The structure is flat and streamlined for new projects
  3. There is a healthy project development budget
Ideas: 
  • Poll staff for new project ideas
  • Have a new project contest
  • Find new markets/applications for existing products and services

 

Now you try:

Issue:
Elements of the current box: 
Elements of the opposite box:
Ideas: 

Resource

Check out this video about product development company IDEO. They have built a robust process for facilitating creativity and flipping assumptions. In this case they are reinventing the shopping cart.

Video (20min total)

Part 1: http://youtu.be/JkHOxyafGpE

Part 2: http://youtu.be/pVZ8pmkg1do

Part 3: http://youtu.be/nyugyrCQTuw

Coming Soon

Be sure to catch our next post: “Don’t respond to email…yet”

Follow Us

Click the buttons at the right to follow Management Mentor via email and twitter

Welcome!

Welcome to the Management Mentor Blog! We aim to replicate some of the benefits of a mentoring relationship through this vehicle. Here’s what to expect:

  • 3 Categories of content: Organization, Team, Self
  • Practical tips for new supervisors and managers
  • Short posts with actionable recommendations
  • Bi-weekly original posts plus additional posts with updates and links to resources
  • 1-year of new content culminating with a comprehensive eBook by Winter 2013

A key element that makes a great manager is the ability to mentor each and every employee. Every employee should not only be appreciated for their efforts, but should be encouraged to grow and develop their career.

Most employees want to grow, but do not know how to broach the subject with leadership. The misnomer here is that the onus should not be on the employee, but on the manager to take a special interest in staff development. The challenge for the experienced one is to realize how this role fits in their daily work life. If managers think policies, procedures, internal processes, financial stability, etc., is why they are here and what they should spend all their time doing, they are very wrong. Building and growing staff is for the betterment of the organization and the future success for the individual. If this practice gets ingrained into your organization’s culture, watch out! Most everything else falls into place and everyone will want to work for you.

While managers have the burden of responsibility when it comes to mentoring, it is in the employee’s best interest to seek out these opportunities. The benefits of mentoring are well documented and researched. However, the inherent upside of a personal relationship with a successful, experienced individual in your field are obvious. In addition to the rich learning you will garner from this individual, mentors are also ideally positioned to open networking doors, assist with growth projects and recommend (or hire!) you for future jobs.

The Management Mentor is a blog for everyone- those who should be mentoring, and those who should be growing. We invite active participation from readers in the form of comments, emails or even phone calls. The feedback we get from all sides will continue to build skills and experiences in us all. Your positive participation will have immediate results for others. It is amazing what bits of feedback can do.

The Management Mentor.

Stay tuned for our first post and practical tip the week of Jan 23, 2012!