Wholesome Marketing Ideas, Bite Size

Wholesome marketing ideas, bite size

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sh*t managers say

You’ve probably come across the “Sh*t folks say” videos on Youtube, and if you haven’t you'll get a chuckle out of them.

Every year, I speak to thousands of managers, speak with hundreds of them, and work closely with dozens on organizational and strategy issues.

Here’s some sh*t managers say as they tackle thorny problems. Feel free to add to the list in the comments below:

It’s a mindset problem.” Naturally, they mean the mindset of all the other people in their organization, not their own mindset which is just fine and perfectly in tune with the times. If only everybody else thought like them, their organization and the world would be a charming problem-free place to live and do business. Other versions of this are “It’s a culture thing,” “we’re just not that type of organization,” or “that would not work here.”

 “Silos. [shake of the head] We’re just a very silo-ed organization.” Get over it! All organizations, especially large ones, have silos. Silos have a purpose. It’s called specialization. Specialization increases productivity and depth of expertise. Coordination across silos and integration of different types of expertise is difficult. Very difficult. But necessary to the delivery of solutions that make sense. You’re a manager. It’s your job to manage across silos to deliver integrated solutions to your customers. Get on with it.
Top management doesn’t get it.” Or another version “Head Office just doesn’t get it.” No, they get it. Its just not on their priority list. If you think it is so important, find a way to put it on their priority list. That is what you are paid to do. Passion and conviction will help. Preparation and perseverance will too. Saying "they don't get it" won't.

After a day or a week long workshop, one of the participants will say something like “Can you tell my boss what you just told me?” This one raises alarm bells about the organization. The answer is “No, I can’t. You tell her.” If you’re asking me to tell your boss, you feel what we’ve been discussing is of importance and value to the organization, but either you’ve not internalized it enough to pitch it to your boss, or you don’t feel sufficiently empowered to raise issues and make changes in your organization. In either case, there are deeper issues to be resolved than the ones we’ve just spent the workshop discussing. But remember, there’s a reason your boss sent you to the seminar, so take some ideas back and adapt them to your organization.

It’s a communication problem.” Or, “We don’t communicate enough in our organization.” This is a classic. It's also one of the most useless diagnoses of organizational problems ever. Sometimes it is directed at a specific group, like top management (“they don’t communicate enough”). And it is funny to see the reaction of those accused of not communicating enough: “Not communicate? Moi? I could spend my entire career communicating, but it would not be enough for them, would it?” And so it goes. You feel there isn’t enough communication in your organization? Start communicating – connect with those you want to pull information from, build channels of communication, and watch the information flow. Your job. Your responsibility to get the right information at the right time.

"It's all the fault of the I.T. department."  Okay, so this one is not quite sh*t. It's true more than half the time. Still, you know what I mean.

Looking forward to your gems in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

Having gotten deep in the guts of developing new software with an IT guru ... actually, normally it isn't the IT department. That communication problem you mentioned? It's showing up again.

Unknown said...

It seems to me you are talking about middle level managers... am I right? In which case how do you interpret the top management response to middle managers saying the top management does not communicate? Is that sh*t too? Seems to me that all the issues you talk about pervade poorly run organizations. The people responsible? Top management!

Niraj Dawar said...

Hi Gerard, I am often surprised by how high in the organization these statements come from. Even top management complains of a "mindset problem" when change initiatives stall. And these statements are hardly unique to poorly run organizations -- they're often heard in some of the world's leading companies.
- Niraj.

Anonymous said...

very correct, it happens all the time and with all of us. "i am fine", "everyone else is not" is a common operative approach. And the most interesting part is - it is universal! Is it likely a much deeper social science issue :-) ?

Chris Lau said...

"They're morons!", insinuating that if the other party (top management or otherwise) had the benefit of even an incremental boost in intellectual capacity, they would see that "we, the enlightened ones" are proposing the otherwise apparently clear answer to all of their deepest woes.