"He... buried his face in the hot pillow",

What CEO Skills Really Work

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There’s a bit of interesting stuff coming from Nohria, Joyce & Roberson, “What Really Works”, Harvard Business Review, [July 2003], pp. 42-51.

  1. Build relationships with people at every level. Most mid-level managers can’t do this. Upper management needs to reach down and see the people in the middle. They have an important purpose, but they can also derail your business quite easily.
  2. Inspire the rest of the management team to do (1).
  3. Spot opportunities and problems early.

A lot of the things that we think are so important are simply prerequisites to getting into the game.

They also cover Knowledge Management, saying the management must force knowledge sharing, keep on it, support it, be part of it, to overcome the tendency to hoard. Which is naive. There are some very interesting research about how to encourage information sharing. You have to have the cultural bias, or at least get out of the way of the information brokers that you have within your organization. And I’d like to see anyone force anything.

People say “We need to get these people on board” when what they really is “We need to coerce these people into doing what we want rather than what they want.”

Last shot: “USAA calls the discipline of simplifying structure and processes ‘painting the bridge’.” (pp. 50) Which seems to tie into a lot that I’ve been talking about, especially Zhou’s article in ACM about the Taiji Capability Maturity Model. You’ve got to create process (which USAA does in an amazing way) and destroy it by simplification immediately following.

Image credit: “He… buried his face in the hot pillow”, Walter Appleton Clark 1905. Library of Congress

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