March 26th, 2012 by Ann Zerkle
“Learning More about MBM Principles from the News” posts use specific news stories to try and prompt readers to identify consistency (or lack there of) with MBM principles.
I’m sure by now that many of you have heard about “Bountygate,” and I thought it might be an interesting chance to identify and discuss some mental models. To get a high level summary of what is going on, read the article “NFL hammers Sean Payton, Saints, Greg Williams for bounty scandal.”
I encourage you to use the comments section strictly as a way to think about the MBM mental models we can see illustrated in this case about organizational management. In other words, instead of focusing on what team is good or bad, whether the punishment fits the crime, or other potential emotionally charged topics, focus on:
- What mental models could be at work in how management is dealing with the situation,
- What MBM mental models could be helpful for people making decisions in this situation, and
- What MBM mental models we can learn more about through this piece of sports news.
January 9th, 2012 by Ann Zerkle
Have you ever encountered something that seems counter intuitive but the more you thought about it the more you liked it? That’s how I felt this morning when I watched this short clip called “Doodlers Unite.” It seems counter intuitive to encourage doodling at work or in the classroom, yet study after study shows there’s something about doodling that helps people learn and create.
I’ve found sometimes MBM can have something that seems counter intuitive on the surface, but after digging deeper it makes a lot of sense. For instance, why does the Guiding Principle of Principled Entrepreneurship have both “a sense of urgency” and “discipline” in it? Don’t those seem to contradict a bit?
What aspects of MBM have you found that seem to not quite fit together? What aspects of MBM have you found that seem counter intuitive but have become more clear to you as you’ve learn more?
August 22nd, 2011 by Ann Zerkle
Every now and then I get into a slump: not an emotional or physical slump, but a creativity slump. Usually it happens after spending a prolonged time thinking about one project or one thing. It’s like my mind starts to travel the same paths over and over again. Generally, this blog has been a good place to give my mind a break and spark something new. This morning, it’s fair to say my thoughts aren’t coming together for a coherent post. Instead, I’m going to give you some bullet points of “half-thoughts” to see if it sparks anything in the comments.
- Office gossip: What makes gossip? When a co-worker gives advice about a boss’s mood, is it gossip? At what point does “knowledge sharing” enter the world of gossip?
- Measures can be a powerful incentive mechanism. They narrow people’s focus. What cultural or leadership attributes need to be in place to help mitigate potentially dangerous behavior changes when new measures are tried?
- How do you know if a measure is an accounting measure or a discovery measure? Lately I’ve been reflecting on past projects and had a realization that treating accounting measures like a discovery measure (I honestly thought they were discovery measures at the time) led to poor results (and ultimately the failure of the project).
- I wish I knew how to express the value MBM puts on individuals.
- Thanks to Wil for pointing out “Fear of Feedback.” Are most people more afraid to give or receive feedback?
There are some half-formed ideas on this Monday morning. Leave your thoughts in the comments. Hopefully something inspiring will come from this!
August 4th, 2011 by Jeff Proctor
I’d venture a guess that most aspiring MBM practitioners have been in at least one debate about the virtue or vice of using the MBM terminology versus just “walking the walk.” I’m sure this isn’t just confined to MBM folks either. Any well-formulated set of ideas or way of doing things could bring the same challenge.
First, let me say that I think spending too much time obsessing over this question probably misses the point entirely. I just wanted to quickly throw an idea out into the blogosphere. I believe that working to apply the principles of a free society–which lead to prosperity–within the firm is a really, really good idea. I also think that having a common way of understanding and doing things can greatly reduce transaction costs. Sure, we should challenge (or whatever you want to call it) when we see things that could work better, but that’s different than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
In short, I’m a fan of using the terminology as long as it depicts reality. Words for their own sake are, of course, putting form over substance. At that point, I’m not sure I really care whether the “right words” are being used or not. I’m also not sure that someone starting from scratch, in a different organization or context, would necessarily arrive at the same terminology that we use. But the cost of adandoning or overhauling a common language that seems to work would, in my opinion, be an unnecessary cost to incur.
Those are my quick thoughts, but I’d love to get your input!
August 3rd, 2011 by Jeff Proctor
I often cite it in my posts, but I haven’t done the greatest job of keeping up with the HBR blog lately. So, I thought I’d go back and review (a Harvard Business Review Review) a few articles with MBM-related ideas:
Reinventing Innovation at PARC
The famous Xerox PARC research lab seems to have rebounded from a post-glory-days slump. The HBR post credits a) consideration for people and their ideas, b) coordination, and c) communication. MBM ideas like fulfillment, respect, challenge, and knowledge are all featured in the article. Good stuff!
How Iteration-itis Kills Good Ideas
Scott Anthony discusses the difficulty of having ideas go through numerous iterations before getting attention from senior decision makers. “By the time idea generators had gone through this gauntlet of gate-keepers, their ideas became watered down and wafter thin — acceptable to everyone, exciting to no one.” Is this an indictment of the challenge process? I don’t think so. I don’t see satisfying everyone as the goal of the challenge process. We do it to bring more knowledge to bear on problems. Seeking challenge is different from seeking buy in, right?
Why Being Certain Means Being Wrong
“Complex decision-making requires we defer the feeling of being right, by tolerating the tension of not knowing. It is hard to fight our physiology — the product of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution — but our innate craving for certainty undermines us in a modern, complex world.” I frequently let the quest for perfect (certainty) be the enemy of the good (enough knowledge to proceed). This article alleged that I’m hardwired to make that mistake. No excuse, but maybe a bit comforting.
Communicating Change as Business as Usual
This is an interesting article on change readiness. One thing I love about MBM is the focus on change. We try to put it right out there in the open. We don’t want to simply react to change, we want to embrace (and dare I say, drive) change. Indeed, change seems to be business as usual. What matters is whether we treat it as such.