General management

This category contains 81 posts

Balancing ownership and quality

Having worked as both a team manager and a consultant, I find there is a common balancing act when introducing people to a new approach or idea, such as setting up a particular process. On the one hand I tend to have a good idea about what I want to achieve and what it should … Continue reading

Accepting failure enables rational exits

You’ve probably heard the idea that we should allow people to fail. You’ve probably also heard the phrase “fail fast”, meaning that we should both allow failure and be set up sufficiently to recognise it and recover from it quickly. In both cases I’ve always seen the benefits of accepting failure as allowing us to … Continue reading

Are we seeking to evaluate or improve?

In a discussion the other day about measuring the effectiveness of developers I looked for a document I’d written a while back for exactly that purpose. But when I opened it up I found that it wasn’t the document I thought it was. I expected something that would help the reader, as a manager, assess … Continue reading

Even successful subversion is a sliding scale

A few weeks ago Theresa May talked directly about Russia’s attempts to undermine democracy in the UK. It does this by planting “fake news” in social media, as well as direct cyber attacks and influencing individuals. Yet I also heard a claim on BBC News that one government source said there was no evidence that … Continue reading

Be aware of the organisational brakes

I often hear about organisations that have tried to implement change and it’s not gone well. Sometimes those are organisations in which I’m working. Here, “not gone well” means the change has had to be halted or scaled back significantly, because of some kind of push-back. Maybe key senior stakeholders have prevented certain things happening. … Continue reading

Improving our decision-making by externalising our instincts

It’s useful to be clear about our decision-making so that we can improve on the poor decisions and repeat the good ones. Even if we don’t know how a decision will turn out it’s valuable to be explicit about the thinking behind it so that we can understand it better for the future. Recently I … Continue reading

What does it mean to “manage” risk?

What do we mean when we say we need to “manage” risk, or “manage” a risk? I’m not talking about financial risk, which is a world of mathematical models and algorithms. I mean project risk or enterprise risk, which typically manifests itself in risk workshops, risk registers, mitigation actions, and regular discussion of “risks” either … Continue reading

More answers are available than we might think

We’re often faced with decisions that seem outside our area of expertise. Last week I met some founders on the Emerge.Education programme and one of them gave an example of this: her company was considering changing from content management system A to content management system B. It seemed like a big step, and while her … Continue reading

When certainty is absent

Among all the noise about Brexit, one line I keep hearing is that “businesses need certainty”. We can read this message from the British Chambers of Commerce, from the Confederation of British Industry, and it’s a message the Chancellor has repeated, too. Undoubtedly certainty is helpful. But those who run businesses deal with uncertainty all … Continue reading

We don’t have to make (very) unpopular decisions

The other day I came across a product manager job description that talked about the need to make unpopular decisions (and to defend them). This is also an idea used by politicians, though they tend to talk more about making “tough decisions”. It’s only when we ask why the decisions are tough that we realise … Continue reading

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