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Principle of organizational memory January 13, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Decison making, Getting what you want, Grow your skills, Handling hot buttons, Management, Management Principle, Managing up.
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Does it irritate you when senior management reserves the best parking spots for themselves? How about when the executive have their own dining room, or when they travel, they travel first class. The Big Dogz do not like these irritants any more than you do — they ignore them for now. As the Big Dogz build their personal power and acquire more position power, they remember what it was like to be in the trenches. The Big Dogz apply the principle of organizational memory!

 

It is not effective to complain or fret about senior management actions or attitudes. These actions are not within your circle of control — you cannot change them. The Big Dogz capture the irritants in an ongoing file called “Things I will not do when I get to be a senior manager.” It is not the place of the Big Dogz to publicly criticize or critique senior management behavior. If you are asked for feedback or your offer of feedback is accepted, then you may give your observation. Otherwise, make an entry into your file. When you get to that level, review your file and make sure you are not doing those actions.

 

Many times, the average manager will automatically adopt the behaviors of their predecessors. Well, the VP of Development gets to park in this spot, so I may as well do it. I deserve it! I am flying on that business trip with two of my people. They are in coach and I am in first class. I deserve it! What these managers do not recognize is that the things that irritate them also irritate others. Why do something that irritates your followers and reduces your personal power? One of the first tasks you undertake when you are promoted is to evaluate what your predecessor did that irritated you. Then decide if you will continue or eliminate the practice. But first, you need to be promoted. You get promoted by managing power.

 

I have talked about how to get power in previous entries, but here is a quick review. First, you get personal power, and then because you are more effective than your peers are, you are promoted to a job that has position power. You use this position power to access more potential personal power. This new personal power gets you more position power – and it is a growing spiral.

 

Here are some examples of applying the principle of organizational memory:

 

  • Management planning meetings are held offsite at a nice place and include lunch or dinner. Key project planning meetings are held in the big conference room and everybody gets their own lunch. The Big Dogz will make sure that moving management meetings off site are really required. They will select key project planning meetings to be held offsite.

 

  • Senior management waits until the last minute to make change announcements, and then they expect a quick implementation. The Big Dogz know that sometimes this is unavoidable for solid business reasons. Most of the time it is not! When you get to be the senior manager, you will include as many people as early as possible in your decision-making.

 

 A classic example of organizational memory is the response of General Norman Schwarzkopf in the 60 Minutes interview during Desert Shield. He talked about how when he was a battalion commander in Vietnam, the generals were in the rear eating off white tablecloths and being served by soldiers. His response was “That’s not going to happen in my command. It better not happen!”

 

Not all us have the opportunity to have such clear irritants. For sure, you experience actions and attitudes that irritate you. I think this situation is quite widespread in the corporate world, but I need data to support that assumption. I have a request of you.

 

Please send me your observations about something senior management does that is irritating. In this economy, there is an abundance of examples. If you could state what they did and how you would do it differently, it would be useful for everyone.

 

When I get a large enough number of these responses, I will summarize and post them here. I will also send you an email alerting you to the posting so you can see how others are applying this principle along with a file containing the responses. I promise to scrub them so the source is not identified.  Having current real world examples can really reinforce this principle and give the Big Dogz suggestions on what to do in their organizations. Please take the time to be heard.

 

rbonder@gmail.com

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