Triton Group Management Consultants
25 years experience

Management Matters

Selected quotes from practitioners, managers and management
consultants to help solve common problems in the workplace.

Theory trap:
Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve. (Karl Popper – philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics in Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach (1972)

-February 2018

Unexpected events:
Experienced managers have learned to expect the unexpected: Life can throw hard balls at you without warning. To cope with the situation you have to make adjustments on the fly. (An old proverb)

-January 2018

Getting things done:
“He has half the deed done who has made a beginning” (Oliver Wendell Holmes – American writer and physician) [like starting a large flywheel, once the initial inertia is overcome the momentum builds. In management terms: decisions are often stalled by procrastination]

-December 2017

Leadership fundamentals:
“Organizations, by their very nature are designed to promote order and routine. They are inhospitable environments for innovation.”
(Theodore Levitt – American economist and professor Harvard Business School)

-November 2017

Customer surveys:
"If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." (Henry Ford)

-October 2017

Leadership fundamentals:
“There is no real magic to being a good leader. But at the end of every week, you have to spend your time around the things that are really important: setting priorities, measuring outcomes, and rewarding them.”
(Jeffrey R. Immelt, General Electric, CEO & Chair 2001-2017)

-September 2017

Managing bias:
Every story has three sides to it – yours, mine and the facts (numerous authors) [Good managers concentrate on FACTS to prevent biases from distorting their judgements]

-August 2017

Questions that work:
The answers you get depend upon the questions you ask (Thomas Kuhn- American Physicist 1922- 1996) [good managers help colleagues think clearly by asking the right questions. This often leads to better decisions and development of the colleague]

-July 2017

A Manager’s key question for a report:
“What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness? To ask this question, and to ask it without being afraid of the truth is, …a mark of the effective executive.” (Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive)

-June 2017

Deep understanding:
Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand (Chinese Proverb)

-May 2017

Unexpected events countermeasure:
Leave space for reflection and for crises—you won’t know when they will happen, but they will. The rule of thumb is that you can expect at least one potentially career-threatening event a year. (Ian Davis-former worldwide MD of McKinsey & Company.)

-April 2017

Surprising Innovations:
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. (General George Patton)

-March 2017

Growing employees:
Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others (Jack Welch - General Electric)

-February 2017

Controls that work:
A control that is 80% perfect and 100% accepted will work. One that is 100% perfect and 80% accepted will not work (Richard Neumeier)

-January 2017

Focus and Simplicity:
That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. (Steve Jobs)

-December 2016

…Innovative managers see their role as that of a facilitator, shepherding ideas every day. Fostering innovative behaviour isn’t an annual exercise, it is business as usual… (Andy Atkins, Michael Seitchik, Research study of 700 executives in Canada, published in Rotman Management, Toronto University, 2016)

[Entrepreneurial spirit and tacit knowledge are often waiting to be unlocked inside organisations. As a manager you need to set the stage for employees to act.]

-November 2016

Measurement Obsession:
Many of the things that matter most in organisations (and in life) cannot be measured, yet they have to be measured…. Certainly we have to measure what we can but avoid being mesmerized by measurement, which we so often are. (adapted from Henry Mintzberg blog August 2016)

[measures in many organisations are poorly designed and usually regress into numbers for the ‘boss’. Effective measures focus on the customer as the key stakeholder]

-October 2016

Active Coping:
An active coping style is central to predicting effective leadership…[Managers with this characteristic] are likely to act with consistently high integrity and to demonstrate sound, timely judgement…and cope successfully with unexpected and unanticipated circumstances [the new normal]
(Leslie S. Pratch, Looks Good on Paper?, 2014)

-September 2016

Effective Decision Making:
The usual approach is to think first then act. Another way is to do first, on a smaller scale, when you’re not sure how to proceed. This will enable you to think in the process of doing. Then you might find yourself thinking differently about what works before a bigger decision is taken.
(adapted from Henry Mintzberg blog, July 2016)

-August 2016

Wrestling With Change:
Most major change initiatives need about a year to get traction – that is, before most people start to feel any impact and know the change is for real. However, there will always be a few diehard resistors, these people usually have to be let go. (Jack & Suzy Welch, Winning:The Answers, 2006)

[Retention of the resistors (sometimes regarded as good HR) normally leads to “white-anting” of the change process. If you have a persuasive case for change most of your people get pumped and will come with you. Once sustainable results are achieved a celebration of success will help to make future change easier.]

-July 2016

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