Robert Heller, management writer, editor, best-selling author and Leadership & Management Review’s founder, died at the age of 80 in August 2012 after a long illness.
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Thinkers commonly make the gross error of confusing what they see with what they want to see; the great and good thinker only forecasts futures after deep analysis of the most profound source of true knowledge - the present.
Managers often need reminding that the bottom line may be the end-all of business activity, but that the top line literally comes first.
The underlying thought of the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) is that, because managers are none too bright, the greater the complexity, the more likely they are to make a mess of their management.
Do you feel that your work as a manager is getting more and more complicated? You are almost certainly right.
Few managers today can have escaped exposure to the management industry. They have very likely been taught some aspect of management, been exposed to some new (or once new) management idea, worked alongside expensive management consultants, come across an interesting article in a management journal, even read a whole management book (even if it’s only The One-Minute Manager).
Interesting evidence about predictions is covered in a book by Philip Tetlock entitled Expert Political Judgment: How good is it? The answer is directly relevant to business management, because fortunes are directly affected by political decisions (and indecisions).
‘Mavericks’ are by definition rare beasts in business management or any other organised activity.
What’s the most valuable attribute that a manager can possess and develop?
Why do business idols, both individuals and firms, develop feet of clay? For anybody who believes this cannot happen to their leader, or their organisation, or even to themselves, the best advice is ‘don’t be so sure’.
A millionaire reader once told me that he had built up his eminently successful business by following these dozen points from my 1980 book, The Business of Winning...
How would you like to achieve the financial benefits of a major company shake-up…
How the boss behaves has a profound effect on how other managers perform - and thus on the performance of the entire outfit.
That's a self-evident truth, acknowledged by most people. But few bosses acknowledge the corollary: that inferior performance is partly their fault.
All sportsmen know that the basic essentials of their game can be expressed in very few words.
All empires famously carry within them the seeds of their own decay.
How far is my company away from failure? The question itself sounds like an admission of inadequacy. The confident manager surely doesn't walk around waiting for nemesis to strike. Rather, confident people strut the stage like a colossus, with all the certainty, say, of Bill Gates.
When markets are changing rapidly and unpredictably, strategies and tactics must also be flexible.
So revolutionary companies, within a broad visionary context, delegate strategic planning to business units which are able to adapt swiftly to shifting markets. Using IT, the centre controls without interfering. One of the key controls is planning itself.
Management and numbers go together like Scylla and Charybdis.
You don't change for its own sake - you change to realise the strategic vision.
Everybody makes mistakes. But the biggest mistake of all is failure to learn from error. The lessons of misjudgements, miscalculations and mismanagement teach more than success - if you're prepared to face the realities of failure.
The romantic image of the founder-millionaire wearing overalls. tinkering visibly with some mechanical marvel in workshop or lab, is often reality.
Top managers have never lost their fondness for declaring that people are the 'greatest asset' that their corporations possess. Like other popular maxims, this one doesn't survive close analysis.
What does Mercedes-Benz have in common with H.J. Heinz and Coca-Cola?
All companies are management academies, good or bad. Very few concerns see themselves in this light. But companies of all sizes inculcate methods, judge managerial performance, seek to improve it, provide specific training, develop concepts - and, above all, provide an endless stream of real-life case studies.