Quote of the week
“I see managers who look like 12 year olds with attention deficit disorder…”
— Tom Peters
Some thoughts on leadership in today’s world:
Tom Peters said in an interview that today technology gives leaders the chance to do “73 things at a time or at least delude yourself that you are.” That resonates even in my humdrum life, where I find myself constantly jumping back and forth between screens, documents, telephone calls and meetings…not to mention issues, decisions and outputs.
I think sometimes we underestimate how technology has changed the seemingly little things, like our learning and reading habits. Documents are scanned quickly – if they are read at all – and more often than not we find ourselves checking out websites, looking for information nuggets we can use somewhere, anywhere.
Yet we still persist in doing things the same old way, either out of habit or because our hierarchies demand it…or both.
I had a conversation with a manager a couple of weeks ago who asked, “Why is it that we persist in writing and sending up briefing notes the old way when it’s clear no one actually reads them?” He noted that all his minister wants are decks that concisely outline the issues and the decisions required.
Yet the department continues to insist that briefing notes be written, with hundreds of hours spent in going back and forth through the hierarchy developing a product that, as a concept, is way past its best-before date.
The Peters response, by the way, is this: Don’t expect hierarchies to go away (especially, one might add, in the public sector). They serve a purpose and are critical to managing risk. But as leaders we need to focus on creating a culture that questions status quo thinking and looks to experiment in order to find new solutions.