General management

This category contains 77 posts

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

Opening doors for positive people

The other day I bumped into a colleague whose responsibilities include something I often have to manage—encouraging people to change the way they work. She described her new team, including the familiar situation of having a number of people who were skeptical of any change, or who were otherwise reluctant to do so. But she … Continue reading

Good technical people need good non-technical skills

Very technical roles require very technical skills. Information security experts, software developers, architects and others all need specialist skills as a baseline. But in general those people (like so many others) don’t work alone, and it’s important that their work meshes with others. If we treat our staff like cogs in a machine then that … Continue reading

The black market in common sense

Last week I caught up with the enlightening Morten Elvang, who introduced me to a powerful metaphor: the black market in common sense. Morten describes this as a “shadow organisation”, an organisation within an organisation, populated by people who are working round the system in order to get their work done. Perhaps you’ve seen organisations … Continue reading

From visualising data to seeing the work

Visualising data is good, but then looking behind the visualisation is even better. This became apparent to me recently reading a fun piece of research by Justin Matejka and George Fitzmaurice: An effective (and often used) tool used to demonstrate that visualizing your data is in fact important is Anscome’s Quartet. Developed by F.J. Anscombe … Continue reading