Let’s Get Rid of Management

horsedrink

This is the 23rd in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.


People don’t want to be managed.
They want to be led.

Whoever heard of a world manager?
World leader, yes.
Educational leader.
Political leader.
Religious leader.
Scout leader.
Community leader.
Labor leader.
Business leader.
They lead.
They don’t manage.
The carrot always wins over the stick.
Ask your horse.
You can lead your horse to water, but you can’t manage him to drink.
If you want to manage somebody, manage yourself.
Do that well and you’ll be ready to stop managing.
And start leading.


It seems to be as if Mr. Gray is trying to portray leaders in a positive light and managers in a negative light. He also seems to suggest strongly that we don’t need managers, that everyone should strive to become a leader.

I disagree with this perspective. In my opinion, manager and leader are two different roles, and successful organizations need both.

Curt Richardson, founder and CEO of Otterbox, wrote an article on this topic in Inc. magazine in June 2013 that looked at the differences between leaders and managers. Richardson sates the following:

Leaders have a unique ability to rally employees around a vision. Because their belief in the vision is so strong, employees will naturally want to follow them. Leaders also tend to be willing to take risks in pursuit of the vision.

Managers, on the other hand, are more adept at executing the vision in a very systemic way and directing employees on how to do so. They can see all of the intricate moving parts and understand how to make them harmonize. Managers are usually very risk-adverse.

It’s true that some managers can inspire and some leaders can systemically execute, but these are not their core strengths. For a start-up, the entrepreneur really has no choice but to be both leader and manager, which is usually okay since it’s probably just him/her and one or two others. Understanding which you are will help you make important, early choices about whom you need to grow that complement your strengths and ensure the success of your business.

I agree with Richardson that firms need both effective leaders and effective managers. They are two different skill sets, and each have different, but necessary, objectives.

Alan Murray, author of the Wall Street Guide to management, states the following:

Leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked, and complementary. Any effort to separate the two is likely to cause more problems than it solves. Still, much ink has been spent delineating the differences. The manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate.

But in the new economy, … management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define for them a purpose. And managers must organize workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

Murray notes that the great management theorist, Peter Drucker had the following to say about this issue:

… one does not ‘manage’ people. The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.

So it seems as if many ways that the roles of leader and manager have merged into each other today, but for an individual to be successful in such a role, they need to accomplish both management type tasks (organizing, executing, evaluating) and leadership type tasks (inspiring, motivating, creating a vision).

So maybe Mr. Gray from United Tech was on to something after all.

Perhaps an analogy to distribution can be made. Often times there is a desire to get rid of the “middlemen” in a complex distribution system, as a way to improve efficiency and lower costs. And while firms may be successful in getting rid of the middleman, the firms usually can’t eliminate the work that middlemen do.

Mr. Gray may be calling for the elimination of the manager position, but you can’t get rid of the work that a manager does.

The ideal individual is someone who is both an effective manager and leader, but that is likely a difficult combination to find.

One final note about the United Tech ad. There is reference to the classic phrase, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” (modified in the ad above).

Such an attitude seems almost defeatist, and a few years ago I heard a much better version of this phrase:

You can lead a horse to water, and while you can’t make him drink, you can make him thirsty.

And making him thirsty may just be the role of a manager…

 

 

To Reduce How Much Food You Waste, Learn to Eat More Consciously

foodwaaste

The graphic above, prepared by the Wall Street Journal, does a great job depicting the amount of food wasted across various food groups in the U.S.

It is a staggering amount – 429 pounds of food are wasted per person each year. Or stated another way, The U.S. wastes 31 to 40% of its post-harvest food supply.

This is a combination of food waste at the retail level (the difference between how much comes into a store versus how much is sold) plus at the consumer level (based on surveys of what consumers say they bought versus what they ate).

In dollar amounts, these food losses amount to $166 billion, with retail accounting for 32% of the total and consumers the remaining 68%.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, suggests several factors lead to consumer waste, including overpurchasing and confusion over expiration dates.

Here is some additional data from a study at Johns Hopkins University:

The lost nutritional value of post-harvest waste in the U.S. represents an estimated 1,249 calories per capita per day, with the greatest amount by weight coming from fruits and vegetables [1]. Waste impacts public, food industry and household budgets; food lost from harvest to consumer in 2010 cost $161.6 billion; losses at the consumer level averaged $371 per capita, or 9.2% of average food spending [1]. Addressing wasted food puts that food and/or money back into circulation, potentially contributing to improved nutrition and, among those with lower incomes, improved food security. More broadly, reducing waste could help offset the 60% increase in food the United Nations projects we will need from 2009 to 2050[5]. Because wasting food means wasting all the food’s “embodied” social and environmental impacts, this loss contributes extensive water, air and soil contamination [6] and harm to workers[7]. Wasted food in North America/Oceania also accounts for an estimated 35% of freshwater consumption, 31% of cropland, and 30% of fertilizer usage[8]; as well as 2% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions [9]; and 21% of post-recycling municipal solid waste[10]. The avoidable use of limited resources and additional environmental impacts from wasted food contribute to the challenge of providing a sustainable and affordable food supply for the future.

This study also discovered that while many people may be aware of how much food is wasted in the U.S. (45% of the people surveyed were aware of the 40% waste estimate that has been reported), when asked to compare the amount of food they discard to that of others, 73% of respondents reported that they discard less than the average American household, and only 3% reported that they discard more (sounds like a Lake Wobegon distribution where all the children above average).

So in other words, people are not conscious of the fact that they are wasting food.

But perhaps this should not come as much of a surprise; many people aren’t conscious of what they are eating.

I would guess that most people do not know how many calories they should be eating per day versus how many calories they are eating;  how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates they should be getting versus what they are getting; how much sodium they should be consuming versus how much they are consuming; how much fiber they need versus how much they are getting; the list could go on and on.

To me, what we eat each day is one of the most important decisions we make every day, yet most people give little thought to it.

It doesn’t take a lot of reading and research to know some of the basics about food and nutrition (two book recommendations are The Food Revolution and The Engine 2 Diet, and Forks Over Knives and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead are two great documentaries). But knowledge is one thing; acting on such knowledge is the key and much harder.

So I think a key to reducing the amount of food that is wasted each year is first making people more knowledgable about food and nutrition in general.

Once someone is armed with such knowledge and they begin to eat more consciously, then I believe they will begin to treat their usage of food more carefully, leading to a reduction in the amount of food that is wasted.

Like with most things, a little knowledge can go a long way.

Bicycles Are Morally Hazard

wrightcycle

Such was the belief of some people in the late 19th century.

Prior to the widespread use of bicycles, children were not able to stray very far from home. But now with a bike, a child could be miles away from home in just a few minutes. It was also said that bikes were keeping kids away from books, and that suburban and country tours were “not infrequently accompanied by seductions.”

Fortunately not everyone felt this way. The bike was proclaimed to be a boon for mankind, a work of art, good not only for one’s health but also for one’s spirits and outlook on life. One doctor wrote that “for physical exercise for both men and women, the bicycle is one of the greatest inventions of the nineteenth century.”

I learned all of this while reading David McCullough’s “The Wright Brothers”. I am still in the early stages of the book, but it is obvious what a great story it will be, and what a great storyteller McCullough is.

The Wright brothers started Wright Cycle Exchange in 1893, selling and repairing bikes. A short while later they renamed their business to the Wright Cycle Company and in 1895 they began making their own bicycle named the Van Cleve.

So it seems that the Wright brothers may be another example to support Malcolm Gladwell’s belief, described in his bestselling book, Outliers, on the critical role that timing plays in someone’s success. Gladwell points out that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, while both smart and ambitious, were fortunate to have been born when they were, reaching maturity at the dawn of the computer age.

The Wright brothers obviously had the smarts and the ambition to start a bike company, but they were certainly the beneficiaries of good timing, given the booming popularity of bicycles (despite its being morally hazardous…).

Being in the right place at the right time certainly contributed to their initial success, which as we all know led to even greater success. But as far as I know, even their development of a flying machine benefited from good timing, since many others were working on the same creation at that time.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book. I can’t imagine some of the negative reaction people must have had to an airplane if they thought a bike was such an affront.

Fortunately the Wright brothers, and others, ignored such warnings, and today we are the beneficiaries of their creativity, perseverance, and commitment to their ideas.

Dear Seth, Shouldn’t You Know if the Work You Do Matters?

fredtaylor

Once again, Seth Godin’s blog got me thinking.

Today he wrote about how Scientific Management has evolved from the old Frederick Taylor (pictured above) days where the focus was on measuring the productivity of factory workers, to the focus today of measuring the productivity of white collar workers.

But Seth believes there’s a price to pay for all this measurement:

You will either be seen as a cog, or as a linchpin. You will either be measured in a relentless race to the bottom of the cost barrel, or encouraged in a supportive race to doing work that matters, that only you can do in your unique way.

Now I’m a huge Seth fan, and I’ve bought into his whole mindset of being willing to step outside your comfort zone, to do work that you think is important, of being an artist.

But sometimes I either disagree with some of the things he says and does, or perhaps sometimes I just don’t get what he is trying to say.

And that’s how I feel about his last statement in today’s blog:

It’s not easy to be the person who does unmeasurable work, but is there any doubt that it’s worth it?

I do not think it is possible to do work that is worth it, unless it can be measured.

Tom Peters (a former partner at McKinsey Consulting and author of In Search of Excellence, probably my favorite business book of all time) wrote an excellent post several years ago titled, “What Gets Measured Gets Done“. In the article Peters notes that he believes that this expression was the best business advice he ever heard. The idea that what gets measured gets done has been around for a long time, and I think the reason for its longevity is because it is true.

If you want to improve at something, whether it’s at running, at making widgets, or at making a difference, I think it’s important to have a baseline as a starting point. Without a baseline to compare against, how do you know if the work you are doing is leading to improvement, to making a difference?

So I agree with the first part of Seth’s closing line, that it probably isn’t easy to be the person who does unmeasureable work; in fact not being able to measure my contribution in some way would drive me crazy.

I think many of us want to not only feel like we are making a difference, but to know that we are making a difference. And the only way to know is to compare where we are today with where we were at a previous point in time.

After all, if we never measure our work, we may not be doing work that matters, work that makes a difference. And if we did discover that the work we were doing was not making a difference (using some type of measurement process), then we could look for ways to refocus our efforts, and to find a way to start doing work that matters.

Just because we are able to measure our work in some way does not make us a cog; in fact I think measuring our work enables us to become even more effective as a linchpin, and isn’t that what Seth’s nudging is all about?

 

 

It’s 11:00 at Night, and I Don’t Know What To Write for My Blog…

nightowl

Somehow today rushed past me faster than I anticipated, and now I’m sitting at my computer trying to think of something to write about.

I’ve gone thought my usual potential sources of material:

Unfortunately, nothing caught my eye that I felt like exploring a bit further.

I was tempted to write about Walmart’s decision to stop selling semi-automatic rifles; the story was in today’s Wall Street Journal and on LinkedIn’s Pulse, but I felt as if I didn’t have enough time to put my thoughts down in a way that would say what I want to say about guns (I am very much anti-guns).

But as fate would have it, one of my friends posted a link on Facebook to “One minute of fed-up celebrities talking about guns is actually worth your time“.

The video was created by Everytown. From the Everytown web site:

Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives.

But something is changing. More than 3 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans have come together to make their own communities safer. Together, we are fighting for the changes that we know will save lives.

Everytown starts with you, and it starts in your town.

While President Obama has tried to enact stricter gun laws, he has unfortunately been met with strong opposition every step along the way.

But as the Everytown video notes, enough…

Truly a Tough Act to Follow

npharris

I just came across the video of the opening of the 2013 Tony Awards which featured Neil Patrick Harris.

Words cannot describe how great this eight minute performance is, or in Barney Stnson’s words, LEGENDARY.

I still think of Neil as Doogie Howser, but he is much more than that. Here is the opening to his bio on Wikipedia:

Neil Patrick Harris is an American actor, writer, producer, director, comedian, magician, singer, and television host.

He has also won an Emmy and an Oscar, and has been nominated for a Grammy.

He is truly a gifted performer.

Prior to seeing this performance my favorite opening to an awards show was when Jimmy Fallon did Born to Run at the 2010 Emmys. As much of a Springsteen fan that I am (and Jimmy Fallon), I have to admit that the Neil Patrick Harris opening is the more epic of the two. But I’ll let you be the judge:

The Power of Simple Direct Language

justask

It’s amazing the opportunities we miss because we doubt our own powers of persuasion.”

The above quote is from an article written by Vanessa Bohns, an assistant professor at Cornell University, “You’re Already More Persuasive than You Think” which recently appeared in Harvard Business Review.

Bohns reports on the results of research she and her colleagues have conducted that looked at how much people underestimate the amount of influence they believe they have when asking someone for assistance. In one experiment, it turned out that strangers were twice as likely to say “yes” to a request as the participants had expected. When they returned to the lab, many participants expressed surprise at how willing people were to go along with their requests.

Bohns also reports on research by Frances Milliken of New York University and two colleagues which found the majority of 40 employees at knowledge companies did not bother to speak to their bosses about key issues because of a belief that raising the issues would make no difference.

Research also suggests that the best method for smoothing over a conflict with someone may not be to offer help, but to ask for help. However, since we tend to focus too intently on our own feelings — of embarrassment, weakness, or shame —  we don’t realize that a request will often stimulate a positive reaction, and as a result we do not bother asking for help.

The net result of all of this is untapped potential to influence others, to effect change, to speak out when something is wrong.

Once people do embrace the influence they have, they begin to ask for things more readily. And they start to hear that magical word “yes” more often.

So as Bohns notes, “Like it or not, we all have a powerful tool for making change: simple direct language.”

She offers four tips on how to successfully make requests:

  • Just ask
  • Be direct
  • Go back and ask again (Bohns has done research that indicates that a person is more likely to respond yes to a request if they have previously responded no to another request)
  • Incentives are not needed (again, Bohns’ research shows that people are as likely to respond yes to a request whether there is an incentive or not).

Bohns’s closing comment summarizes her research quite well:

We tend to have a lot of misconceptions about influence — how much of it we have, the best way to wield it. Fortunately, the reality is more encouraging than we imagine. The power of a simple, direct request is much greater than we realize.

When I first started running my personal training studio, I signed up for a year-long sales training program, since I had no background in sales. I still clearly remember the sales trainer telling us that the number one mistake that ineffective salesmen make is that they never ask for the sale.

The salesperson may be great at schmoozing, at making a presentation, at responding to the prospect’s objections, but where they have difficulty is in closing the deal, in asking the client for the sale.

The reason why makes sense. It’s easy to schmooze or to make a presentation because everybody feels good, there’s no chance for rejection. But once you ask for the sale, there is the possibility that the prospect could say no, and no one likes to experience that sense of rejection.

However, the successful salesperson may instinctively be in tune with all of the research noted above, and realizes how much influence they do have over the prospect, and as a result are much more likely to hear that magical word “yes”.

(Unfortunately in my case, I just didn’t hear that word often enough. And I never thought to go back to the people who said no the first time to see if they would respond differently a second time. Hmmmmm. I wonder what would happen if I applied to Harvard again…)

 

 

Let’s Get Rid of “The Girl”

female_rangers

This is the 22nd in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.


Wouldn’t it be great to take one giant step forward for womankind and get rid of “the girl”?
Your attorney says, “If I’m not here just leave it with the girl.”
The purchasing agent says, “Drop off your bid with the girl.”
A manager says, “My girl will get back to your girl.”
What girl?
Do they mean Miss Rose?
Do the mean Ms. Torres?
Do they mean Mrs. McCullough?
Do they mean Joy Jackson?
“The girl” is certainly a woman when she’s out of her teens.
Like you, she has a name.
Use it.


I’ve been fortunate to start my career after this article was published, and to have always worked in an environment where I do not recall this ever being an issue.

But I’ve certainly seen enough movies and read enough books to be aware of this having been a problem. I would guess that there are still a few places where women may be referred to in this way, but from my perspective such places are few and far between.

That certainly does not mean that everything is OK in the business world in terms of how women are treated.

There are fortunately some positive signs of growing respect for women and their capabilities outside the business world:

  • Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina appear to be strong candidates for President of the U.S.
  • 1st Lieutenant Kristen Griest, and Captain Shaye Haver just became the first female Rangers.

So hopefully the advances that women have made in these settings will soon start to manifest in the business world.

In the meantime, let’s start with making people aware of the discrepancies in pay and promotion opportunities noted above, and work to right this wrong.

Side note – I think my recollection is clear on this, but I’ve asked a few others where I work and no one else seems to remember it.

When I first started at Villanova in 1986, there were only two bathrooms for faculty and staff – and that’s how they were labeled! Not men and women, but faculty and staff.

We did have a few women faculty at the time (not nearly the number we have now), and I wonder what they thought when they saw that sign each day. I wish I could find photographic evidence of this, but smartphones weren’t around then, so I ‘ll just have to rely on my memory.

Plus it would have been kind of creepy to be taking pictures of the restroom doors…

Top Ranked Hospital Gives McDonald’s the Boot

clevelandclinic

This past week, the Cleveland Clinic, which has been ranked No. 1 in heart care for 21 years according to annual ratings published by U.S. News and World Reports, decided not to renew its release with McDonald’s.

The fast food restaurant had been a prominent part of hospital’s food court for the past 20 years.

“We want to demonstrate that we can walk the talk by being a healthier organization,” said Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman, Eileen Sheil. Sheil added that removing McDonald’s is part of a much broader wellness campaign at the hospital to “promote healthy food choices, exercise, and a smoke free environment.”

Clinic chief executive Toby Cosgrove, himself a cardiac surgeon, has been trying to get rid of the Golden Arches for more than a decade, but the chain asserted its right to continue operating in the Clinic’s food court under the terms of its lease.

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), all but 17 U.S. hospitals have given McDonald’s the boot, no longer willing to promote the foods that cause many of the diseases that land patients in hospital beds in the first place.

The PCRM further notes that chronic diseases of lifestyle now account for seven out of every 10 U.S. deaths and about 75 percent of our $3 trillion health care budget. More than 70 percent of Americans struggle with overweight or obesity, which have been linked to both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which are two of the country’s leading causes of hospitalization.

Some hospitals have taken a more proactive approach of embracing food as medicine. In Connecticut, New Milford Hospital is serving up salads filled with green leafy vegetables grown in an aeroponic tower on the hospital’s rooftop garden.

towergarden

And Dr. Garth Davis, at Houston’s Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center in Houston, decided to start writing prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables. Working in conjunction with Kristina Gabrielle Carrillo-Bucaram, founder and chief co-operator of Rawfully Organic, Dr. Davis opened “The Farmacy” in the hospital lobby. The stand is open every Wednesday from 10-2, and patients present prescriptions for a box of fresh, organic produce. A box costs $25, but if you have a prescription, $10 is refunded.

farmacy
By closing fast-food restaurants and prioritizing healthful foods, offering smoking cessation programs, and promoting exercise, hospitals are reinforcing their mission to heal, rather than harm.

I Have No Useful Skills

Skill vs No Skills Competition Unskilled and Skilled People

Whenever there’s a natural disaster I often think that it would be nice to go and volunteer to help out. But then I realize I have no skills that would be useful in such a situation. I’m not a doctor, nurse, or paramedic; I’m not an electrician, plumber, or carpenter; I have no engineering background so I know nothing about irrigation systems or repairing bridges.

In other words,  if I went to such a place I would just be another mouth to feed, and not earning my keep.

There likely isn’t a lot of demand in a natural disaster situation for someone to come in and teach people the difference between debits and credits or how to analyze financial statements. Someone who can teach kids how to juggle is unlikely to be on any Red Cross list of “critical personnel”. And helping someone set up an iTunes playlist can probably wait until the disaster situation is under control.

While I realize there are certainly other ways to help out in a natural disaster, such as through donations, it would still be nice to be able to provide hands–on help.

So what to do? Well my guess is that becoming a doctor isn’t a feasible option at the age of 57. I also just don’t have the interest in learning a trade such as an electrician or plumber. And  pursuing a degree in engineering intimidates me.

So that leaves nursing school, or becoming a paramedic. I have actually thought about both of these options in the past, but I think I am at the point where I need to give more serious consideration to which path I may pursue.

Nursing would seem to require a longer education/training time than a paramedic, but nurses, in my opinion, play the most critical role in the health care system.

Becoming either one would certainly provide me with a skill set that would be useful anywhere I go, and that would certainly be a step up from where I’m at now.