Blueberries in woman's hands. c) donatellasimeone. Via Fotolia

“Low-Hanging” Means “Pick Last”

E. Forrest Christian Managing 3 Comments

It’s odd that an agricultural phrase (“low-hanging fruit”) came into business usage. Most of our business metaphors come from the military. It’s not a good fit. Agriculture would be, I’d reckon. From what I know from talking to successful farmers and gardeners, it’s a hard life full of risk. You have weather, sure, but you also have changes from plot to plot. You don’t just have to worry about which landrace will work on your soil but which will work best when it’s wet in the spring, dry in the summer and wet at harvest. All rice are not the same. You must predict the unpredictable (weather), rally forces to react to outside actions (war, markets, catastrophic atmospheric events), create adequate reserves while not having so much that they go to waste. Most of the time, there aren’t known good decisions. You have to make decisions in uncertainty, relying on the wisdom of the past and your own experience. Even non-modern farming has these issues.

Winter at Lofoten (2008). By Tackbert. Public Domain.

What Biz School Would Look Like If It Was Interested In Impact

E. Forrest Christian Learning 2 Comments

Recently, some deans of business schools have begun blogging on things MBAish at BizDeansTalk. It’s an interesting read, partly because I’ve never spent much time with business school folks. (With my wife being an art historian, we just normally got the scientists and humanities folks for dinner. Other than practicing artists, I suppose we never had a profession-related academic in …

Traffic signal at Tamil Nadu. (c) 2011 Thamizhpparithi Maari (CC BY SA 3.0)

Replacing Management With Project Management Is Disastrous

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

CIO (Australia) Magazine had an interesting article last month by Sue Bushell on Information Technology (IT) organizations and their spectacular failure to the business [“Just Deserts”, 2005 May 5]. Bushell quoted Kathryn Cason of Requisite Organization International Institute on the problems of IT being caused by the organizational structure itself: The fact that IT has primarily been pushed into a …

Marine Sgt. at New Orleans, La. By Howard R.Hollem. Library of Congress collection via Flickr.

How to Break Through the “Impermeable Clay Layer” of Middle Managers

E. Forrest Christian Change, Managing 3 Comments

In the last post on implementation, APFG commented that the middle layer in the company is where you have most of the problems. Since almost everyone says this, let’s take a look at why. Let’s admit that it is not always true: the middle layer in a company isn’t always the source of the problems. There are often people at …

Marine Sgt. at New Orleans, La. By Howard R.Hollem. Library of Congress collection via Flickr.

Why We Over-Estimate In Evaluations

E. Forrest Christian Managing, Reviews - Articles 3 Comments

While at the PeopleFit “Assessing Raw Talent” class this last week, I heard that it is common for people to overestimate the CIP (Elliott Jaques’s idea of Complexity of Information Processing) of persons who have a lower CIP and to underestimate their subordinates who have a higher CIP than they do. I figured that they were simply a 2002 article …

The Great Ravenna Boulevard Sinkhole, 1957. Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)

Increasing Rank-and-Yank Makes People More Mediocre

E. Forrest Christian Organizations Leave a Comment

Does rank and yank really work? One of the fundamental needs of rank-and-yank management is identifying weak performers. When top management presses managers to identify more, what group do you think they take from? University of Chicago researcher and social network analysis expert, Ronald S. Burt, discovered who in his network analysis at one firm: In the annual cycle preceding …

Advertisment design study for Pierce Arrow automobiles (1915). By Edward Penfield. Via Library of Congress collection.

Top 5 Job Assignments That Produce Learning

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Learning 2 Comments

Not every posting is equivalent to build great managers. That’s pretty clear to even the densest of us (me). What’s not is which of the quality postings will produce better learning than others. Morgan W. McCall, in Lessons of Experience: How Successful Executives Develop on the Job (1988), cites the following as the Top 5 job assignments to produce learning: