Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leader or Manager?

Are you managing people or leading them?

If they are set out before you, and you need to push them where you want them to go, you're managing them.

But look behind you.  If you're being followed, you're a leader.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

The U.S. Budget Debacle

There is comedic value in the current budget arguments.  Leno, John Stewart, et al. are being fed more material than they know what to do with.
Unfortunately, there is much more tragedy than comedy.  Lots of nonprofit organizations depend on government funds to deliver their services.  When those services are decreased, the poor and the vulnerable will suffer most of all.

As a people, we have short memories.
Have we forgotten that every person in the know, including fiscal conservatives, said that a bailout was necessary to keep the U.S. economy from collapsing?  Have we also forgotten that the president at the time of that initial bailout was a member of the Republican party and an espoused conservative?

Have we blocked the fact from our memories that virtually every responsible economist consulted said we needed the large stimulus efforts, and that some experts argued that the stimuli should have been greater?

So now, with the recovery in its infancy and still quite tenuous, bullies in Congress are talking about the U.S. government and shouting "Shut it down!".  They forget that if it were not for that large, strong federal government, many of that wealthy thin slice of the U.S. populace they fight for might have joined the ever increasing percentage of the country that is the financial lower (not middle) class.
Perhaps they would have been happier if Hoovervilles made a comeback.  Or maybe they have forgotten their U.S. History lessons regarding the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover, his arguments on small government, and how so many Republicans fought tooth and nail to stop FDR's federal intervention.  As it has been said: "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it".

It is hilarious, and truly tragic.

Ed Thomas
Management in the Not for Profit Organization

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Management Misnomers

To a few of my fellow managers,
Please stop twisting terms to suit your needs.  For example:
  • "Lean" does not mean cutting every ounce of fat in your organization, then cutting the muscle, followed by cutting off pieces of the skeleton.  A skeleton isn't lean, it's dead.
  • "Reducing variation" as used in Six Sigma does not mean you tell your customers or your employees "It's my way or the highway".
  • When Jim Collins wrote "From Good to Great" and referred to getting people "off the bus", he didn't mean the only people left on the bus should be sycophants.  
  • Your "value stream" does not mean doing exactly what the people with the most money want you to do at any given moment.  You can't look at your "value stream" until you realize who must value what you're doing. Start by doing an honest stakeholder assessment or any analysis of a value stream is meaningless.  And by the way, your end users and your employees are stakeholders.
  • "Transformative Culture" is not the boss standing at a podium and telling people they have to do everything differently, and it has to be exactly what the boss wants.  The boss can certainly tell people what to do, but that's top-down hierarchical leadership - not a transformative culture.  Call it what it is.

OK, now I feel a little better.

Ed Thomas