Michael has a post about the best characters of an Entrepreneur. I think that other qualities matter.
To start this adventure in the first place you will need a load of curiosity and a passion to learn.
You need to have an adventurous nature and the courage to go on this journey to the unknown.
You must keep on the journey and not turn back, this requires drive to keep on when things look bleak.
You must know by now that I am an integrity freak
You will be meeting and needing other people on the way and must respect them help them.
photo by Werner Schnell (1.stream)
Roy gave me a copy of “The Cash Machine” Using the ToC for Sales Management. It is a good read, and it reminded me of the principals I learnt several years ago, although this book had a nice twist, and applied the ToC on a human process instead of the normal production line. (There are also bits that can apply to SW Development but I’ll save that for another post).
What is interesting is that I keep on seeing these pattern. I was making Schnitzels (breaded chicken) for dinner today and my kids where helping me (and fighting over who gets to stand closest to me, but lets ignore that part for now).
Making schnitzels, has a few stages.
- Cut chicken breast into small pieces (I did this)
- Put beaten eggs in a bowl of (my kids did this)
- Put bread crumbs and spices on a plate (my kids did this)
- Heat up oil in a pan (I did this)
Now comes the fun bit, each piece must be dipped in the egg, then in the bread crumbs, then cooked in oil until it is ready. My kids started to dip and coat the chicken and I put it in the oil, but very soon the pan was full and the coated pieces started piling up.
I started teaching my kids about lean and about not having any waste and I showed them that the piled up pieces are making it harder to cook, they where taking up room and where in the way and basically making a whole mess out of it. So we decided that we can only have 8 coated pieces (enough to fill the pan) waiting and that once we get there we just stop (and play with the tap water or quarrel).
Then I used the second step of the Theory of constraints and tried to exploit the constraint. By moving the pieces closer and by adjusting the heat we could get 12 pieces in the pan. Now we can change our lean constraints and allow 12 free pieces. I explained this and quite soon we completed the cooking.
So Lean and Theory of Constraints play well together. We had a great meal and learnt some process theories on the way.
Here is a short discussion I had with a Typemock employee a few weeks ago.
Employee: “Phew, We managed to purchase the last available ticket ”
Me: “That’s great…” after a pause “… Why do we keep on missing the early-bird discounts?”*
Employee: “That’s because you didn’t approve it until the last second”
Me: “Wow, I didn’t know that I was the bottleneck. But… we all knew about this 6 months ago, how come this didn’t come up”
Employee: “Because YOU didn’t tell us that we are actually going to do this”
Me: “Did you expect me to tell you that we should do it”
Employee: “Yes, we where waiting for you, we always wait for you, and then you normally come storming in at the last second and ask us if we are going to do it and what we need to do to it”
Me: “So lets see why this happens, how do I know that you are waiting?”
Employee: “We ask our manager if we are going and he says that you have to approve, so we asked you what we should do but you didn’t tell us to do it”
Me: “Why do you think that I know what to do?”
Employee: “?? What do you mean? You are our manager”
Me: “Ahh, here is where the problem is, you should know better that I do if we should do it. If you really believe that we should do it, you should just say so. Tell me that we should do it, I might ask you some questions but it must come from you and not from me”
Employee: “So… I am supposed to tell you what we should do?”
Me: “Of course, and explain why, you probably know better then me, and that way you wont be waiting for an answer that I don’t really have.”
Employee: “So how come you used to come at the last minute and tell us to do it”
Me: “When I found out that we are not ready to do it and we are nearing at the last minute, I ask what is happening, I learn the domain and make sure that we don’t miss the opportunity, but I hate doing this. I would prefer that we do it before and pay early-bird prices” **
Employee: “Ok, Now that I know, I will make sure that I tell you what I think we should do”
Me: “Thanks you, I feel that we made a great progress here”
I feel that I am managing to invert the command hierarchy
* Some problem-searching
** Letting the team make mistakes
photo by Photoma’s World
Rookie managers have a incomplete perception of management and hold on to the idea that they are still reviewed by their personal performance and that there job is to keep things running.
Quite the opposite, it is a mangers job to make change, it is their job to search for problems and opportunities and manage the change in the best way. They will start with 90% keeping things running and 10% initiating change and as they are promoted the percentages will swap.
One way to get rookie to think in this way is to ask them strategic questions.
- What technology will the team need to know next year?
- How are we going to cut our waste by 25% next quarter?
- How can we measure and improve our quality?
If they just split out the answer, you might want to ask them how they know, but you could then just ask them what they are going to do about it?
If they don’t know that answer, ask them what they are going to do about that?
In either case you can now turn the strategic view to a personal integrity, and coach the rookie.
picture by teliko82
This post is to remind myself what to do what promoting first time managers, based on the final tip in the Myth and Realty Check Post.
Eli, Remember to Delay the Promotion
Here is why. When promoting a manager, I normally promote a high performance employees. These employees are excellent at doing their job well. They are talented, have a good time management, can work in a team. But they are most likely to have a wrong perception of management, this will lead to problems. The new manager will most likely still think that he is being reviewed on his personal performance instead of the teams performance
Its a catch 22 problem, the rookie manager can not get the new job because he needs to change his perception, but the perception cannot change until he jumps into the water.
My solution is instead of promoting, give that person a task that he can succeed only if he uses influence, a task that he cannot do by himself. For example to gather a group of people, that he has no authority on, and convince them to do a task together. A task that they will need to volunteer for. Explain that this task is about completing the task, but also about teaching him to use influence, a trait that is a requirement for a management role. Review his progress, help him out with interpersonal issues. Once he passes this task, he will find it easier to take on the managerial position.
Rookie Managers, including myself, often fail in their new role. Now looking back at my first managerial job (10 years ago) I think that the reason for this was misconceptions and myths that I believed in as a new manager that lead to neglecting key responsibilities.
Myth #1: Authority.
I used to believe that as a manager, my new position gives me the power to be on top, to tell my direct reports what to do and that I have the freedom to implement my own ideas.
Reality: The reality is that I was not in control of anything, I learnt to sit at the back of the bus and let my direct reports drive. I learnt that I need to negotiate interdependencies, build influence by creating strong relationships based on trust and credibility, throughout my team and organization.
Myth #2: Control
I believed that I had to control my direct reports early on or they will walk all over me.
Reality: Compliance is not the same as commitment. I learnt (and still am learning) to create an empowered, committed and accountable organization. The more power that I am willing to share leads to more influence.
Myth #3: Lead by Technical authority
I thought that I needed to lead by example, and to be the best technical employee.
Reality: I had to learn to take the back seat and allow the team to come up with the technical solutions, even if I thought that they where not as good. I had to learn that it is the team’s performance that is important and not my own personal performance.
Myth #4: Keep everything running smoothly
As a rookie I though that it is my job to keep everything running smoothly.
Reality: Although keeping things running is really difficult, it is problem finding and initiating change that is required, even if this means going against the organizations structures and processes.
If you are a manager that just promoted a rookie, please remember these myths and try to explain the reality.
If you are a rookie, remember that you have to make your own success, become proactive, ask for help, your success depends on this.
photo by bernardhoa
This will be my first time in Vegas, I am sure going to have loads of fun, and you are invited to.
Just follow #typemock and get ready for loads of surprises.
There is a big difference between problem solving and problem finding. This is one of the differences that a Rookie Manager must learn quickly. A Rookie manager that has been promoted from the firing lines, from software development is trained to solve problems. Normally the best problem solver who is promoted to the team-leader or manager of the team.
But once you are a manager you are on a transition from a problem solver to a problem finder.
Suppose we have to solve the problem of heating a room to 25°C (77°F). This is something that a problem solver can wire up and and create a system that heats the room when the temperature falls below a certain degree. But the problem solver stops there. The problem is solved.
The problem finder, goes one more step and asks: “Why 25°C?”
As a manager you must start thinking in the Problem Finding Paradigm and once you get there you must start thinking in the Opportunity Finding Paradigm. What opportunities does the team/company have?
Try to find problems in your team/company.
- What is the bottleneck of my team?
- How can we handle external pressure better?
- How can we communicate better?
- How can we code faster? better quality?
- What does the team need to learn?
Remember that your team knows how to solve problems, so ask for their help in solving them, but it is your task to uncover them.
photo from alachance
- Product Status Peek – 2011
- Thanks Roy
- Typemock starts 2011 in a new location
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