General management

This category contains 100 posts

Make good work visible

The other day I was at an Underground station where there were a number of charity collectors with buckets. I put a coin in a collector’s bucket and he gave me a bright yellow sticker in return. At first I was unsure about wanting it; it’s the kind of thing I’d have loved when I … Continue reading

What does it mean to be a mature organisation?

I’ve said before that the word “maturity” raises my hackles, and in particular when people talk about their organisation needing to be “mature”. This is not the only word that has this effect on me. I’ve written before about “culture” and the phrase “best practice”. As with “best practice” (and sometimes with “culture”) there is … Continue reading

Take people with you

It’s slightly egocentric to look at someone doing their job and imagine yourself doing it instead, and it’s naive to look at the work of world leaders and declare that they’re doing it wrong. So in this post I’ll do both. Here in the UK the prime minister, Theresa May, is trying to implement Brexit. … Continue reading

Talking as a cure for politics

The other day I was discussing org structures with a colleague. We agreed there was potential for two parts of the organisation to come into conflict, and we also agreed on the solution: they should talk to each other. For all the procedures and terms of reference that anyone might dream up, in the end … Continue reading

What we say isn’t what they hear

I am frequently surprised now imperfect human communication is, and how ambiguous it is. We think something, we turn it into words, we speak those words, those words get heard by another person, they get interpreted by that person, that interpretation gets stored, and then it gets recalled. Each of those steps is an opportunity … Continue reading

On being “not proved” wrong

I’ve often said I like being proved wrong. It’s good to do things well or have great ideas, but when someone shows us a different way which is successful it can help change our outlook on things, and we learn something new. I remember one time I proposed a way of triaging bugs coming into … Continue reading

Remember the lessons from history… and their context

Our corporate rules, customs and processes are there for reasons. We usually know what those reasons are, or we make assumptions, but often we forget the context behind them. That can lead to problems. Here are two examples… 1. The case of the many gates My friend Gus Power tells the story (better than me, … Continue reading

Achieving excellence is hard work

Some time ago I was working with a team that made a mistake in generating its release notes. I took on the task of improving the process to avoid us making that mistake again. It shouldn’t have been difficult, because someone else told me how they thought it should it be done—I just needed to … Continue reading

Additive skills and multiplicative skills

When I find people in my team who are particularly strong in some area of work I get itchy. Of course it’s great that they have those skills—whether it’s with a particular technology, a strength in technical design, domain expertise—but then the gap with others becomes more apparent. I want other team members to have … Continue reading

A strategy for making progress

Often in a work environment I find I’m faced with difficult problems, and while I manage to find ways to move forward, I do this without knowing exactly what the end state should look like. An example of such a problem might be agreeing the best process for something within a team, or a company. … Continue reading

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