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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Get The Right Model


It’s okay to talk to yourself. Just don’t tell yourself any lies.” Danny Evans, Carpenter

Reality is complex. To understand and predict reality we build models, simplified versions of reality.

Managers often confuse their model with reality. The model doesn’t care. When your model no longer works, build a new model.

Since New Year’s, I’ve been hearing several senior executives invoking the holy management pyramid to justify their contributions and absolve them of some ugly behavior.

Observing their organizations, I couldn’t find no stinkin’ pyramid. However, like phantom pain after a limb is amputated, these guys can still imagine their pyramids.

I rarely find a whole operation executed in one organization. That was where the pyramid came from. Now we have outsourcing, socioeconomic goals, and increasingly narrow areas of expertise.

It’s been years since a boss could fulfill their end of the pyramid bargain, “You do what I tell you to do, I’ll cover you,” hasn’t been true for a while now.

Last year one CEO told me, “I have a 60 day event horizon at best. My board would fire me in a heartbeat if they could find someone who could do my job.”

And they say two year old kids are crude irritable!

I have two other management models, which I think are more accurate.

Looking at my own organization, I see a hub and spoke model. I am currently involved in over ten projects, some I am leading, some I am supporting. For the past ten years, I have been building a network of trusted co-workers, people who are better than average at some set of work. That’s my first replacement for the pyramid.

The second is the Pony Express model.

You know how the Pony Express got the mail delivered so fast? They swapped out the horses when they tired. They had horses for the flats, horses for the hills, always with the emphasis on speed to finish.

A good model should help you predict reality. What are the management models you are seeing?

If you would like to learn more, come to the AITP 2012 Kickoff:

Association Of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
Thursday, January 12, 6 – 9 pm
Alfio's La Trattoria,
4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase MD 20815
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