Imploding CRT photographed with high speed air-gap flash. c 2012 Niels Noordhoek (CC BY-SA 3.0) Via Wikimedia Commons

Why Flat Organization Implodes

E. Forrest Christian Organizations Leave a Comment

As Mark Nichols describes in “Flat Will Kill You, Eventually: Why Every Company Needs Structure“, flat seems like such a great idea when we start out. It works so well and things go so smoothly. Then everything slides downhill on a runaway shopping cart into hell of recrimination, anger and mistrust. What in the world just happened? Why did the …

(c) Amana stock photos

Why Real Software People Don’t Fit In Your Corporation

E. Forrest Christian Computers/IT Leave a Comment

“He’s a real software developer,” I told her. “It’s not just that he’s ‘in a different league’”, I said. “He’s playing an entirely different game.” I was sitting with a business lead who oversaw a large IT project. She and I were talking about the best people on the team. I mentioned that Ivan was clearly the best we had. …

Harris Teeter store in Apex, NC. Public Domain.

Harris Teeter schools Walmart in Customer Service

E. Forrest Christian Managing 1 Comment

I used to think Walmart was the king of retail operations. Smaller operations like Harris Teeter could learn a lot about how to do things from them. But after experiencing customer service in both recently, I know that Harris Teeter could take Walmart to school on basic customer service and loyalty. Harris Teeter, for those not in North Carolina, is …

Network hierarchy diagram.

#1 Reason Why 360º Reviews are a Menace to Managers

E. Forrest Christian Managing Leave a Comment

360º review systems are often dissed by everyone except the people administering them. They’re so-called because they allow everyone in the organization around you — manager, boss’s boss, peers, subordinates and maybe even subordinates’ subordinates — to rate your performance. And that’s the problem: 360º reviews get people to think of things you don’t do well, often for the first time. …

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Why Time Span of Discretion Works

E. Forrest Christian requisite organization Leave a Comment

Timespan of Discretion is the biggest point of complaint that the old folks in the Glacier Metal related work (Requisite Organization, Stratified Systems Theory, Career Path Appreciation, work levels or worklevels, etc.). If you’re new, you may be scratching your head about this Time Span of Discretion. Elliott Jaques claimed to have discovered that you could determine the complexity of …

Cup of Tea. By Mary Cassatt,1879-1880

What Is Real Executive Work? (That Executives Aren’t Doing)

E. Forrest Christian Managing 2 Comments

I got some strong comments regarding my post that executives are boobs. I probably should have said “worthless drags on shareholder value who ought to be golden parachuted into a live volcano that resembles the eternal hell they deserve for being lazy good-for-nothings.” But let’s not quibble. Let’s instead deal with what real executive work looks like. And, yes, I’ve …

Young worker at the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad 40th street shops, 1942.

Engineer-speak vs. Marketing-speak: Talking to engineers successfully

E. Forrest Christian Change, Managing, Reviews - Books 1 Comment

I’ve been reading the fascinating You’re In Charge — Now What?: The 8 point plan by Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin. It’s mostly about how incoming CEOs can handle the first 100 days. What got me hooked is that the process they describe in their first chapter is pretty much the one that I’m writing up about Jos Wintermans at Canadian Tire and Acceptance, Ltd. If you are starting a new managerial job, above Level 3 especially, I’d recommend taking a look at their points. They fluff some elements that require more rigorous thinking, but it is correct in its essentials.

The passage that struck me today is a short one about how a marketing guy, Jeff Killeen, handled the culture shock of starting as CEO at GlobalSpec. GlobalSpec is an engineering-focused company, and here he talks about the struggles he had both in developing a relationship with technical genius & founder, John Schneiter, and the engineers of the company. If you work with engineers or developers, this is relevant.

Lighthouse at night, (c) 2009 Martin Belam. Via flickr. (CC BY SA 2.0)

Get or Keep that Job You’re Over-Qualified For

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Underachievers 2 Comments

Let’s take another gander at how a hidden high potential can either get or stay in a that low-level job. It’s counter to prevailing advice you get, so you may want to pay attention. Before I start, I have to emphasize that I’m only talking about Hidden High Potentials (HHPs) and not Normal People. Normals give HHPs advice which is …

Yardmaster in railroad yards working, Amarillo, TX, 1943. By Jack Delano via Library of Congress Collection (LOC)

Why Managers Should Not Write Technical Job Postings

E. Forrest Christian Computers/IT, Managing Leave a Comment

A friend of mine encouraged me to tell this story which I watched unfold first hand while a software development manager for a mid-sized consulting firm. One of my best developers — a software architect, really — started laughing in the middle of the day. We all needed something to release the strain of our bi-weekly drop work, so all …