Friday, May 06, 2005

Managing Cynicism

So, we had our first team meeting yesterday; and my team is long on cynicism, and short on hope, and motivation.

Of course I knew I was going in to a tough situation when I took the job; in fact that's in part WHY I took the job. I don't like the easy things, I like the hard ones (don't go there).

Anyway, I knew I was going to be introducing this group to their first real on site management and I wanted to explain some important concepts and philosophy; so I presented this.


My management philosophy has a few very basic, but very important tenets:

  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Professionalism
  • Communication
  • Honor
  • Loyalty
To this end, I have some rules to live by. The rules are simple, but they are critical:

  • You are adults, I will treat you as such
  • You are professionals, I will treat you as such
  • I am your advocate; I do my best for you
  • In return, you do your best for me

  • I trust you completely – ONCE
  • Trust your team completely – with all others; trust, but verify
  • Life Comes First

  • K.I.S.S.
  • The “P”s
  • Planning (SMESCS)
  • Mission focus

  • Be prepared
  • Be creative
  • No idea is a bad idea (but it may not be the RIGHT idea)

  • Never say "That's impossible" to the guy who's actually doing it
  • Take risks – but understand and MANAGE them

  • Good is Enough; Good Enough Isn’t
  • Unintended consequences
  • Good intentions matter, but good results matter more
  • Sometimes you have to make the “least bad” decision
  • The Perfect is the enemy of the good
Now some of these rules may require more explanation:

  • Keep
  • It
  • Simple
  • Somethingorother (depending on how rude you want to be)
The "P"s
  • Prior
  • Preparation
  • Prevents
  • Poor
  • Performance
  • S ituation
  • M ission (or objective)
  • E xecution
  • S ervice and Support
  • C ommand Control Communications
  • S upply and Logistics


  • What is a MISSION?
  • What’s the difference between a mission, and an objective? (two answers)
  • What is OUR mission??????


No matter what you do, what you know, or what your intentions are; every word you say, every thing you do, will have consequences you did not intend, forsee, or understand.

20 Questions

On my very first day, I gave them a list of 20 questions I wanted them to answer for me, as follows:

Task Issues
  1. What are your major tasks every day
  2. What are your primary work tools, applications, and systems
  3. What problems do you have (or foresee) with your major tasks
  4. What problems do you have (or foresee) with your primary tools, applications, and systems
  5. What administrative or logistics issues do you have
  6. What general issues not specifically related to the above do you have
  7. What do you think works
  8. What do you think DOESN'T work
  9. How can we fix what doesn’t work
  10. How can we improve what we does work
Project Issues
  1. What major projects are you working on right now
  2. What major projects do you foresee in the near future
  3. What problems are you having with your current major projects
  4. What problems can you foresee having with your current, or near future major projects
  5. Are there any major projects we need to be starting that aren't listed above; or do projects need to be stopped, or accelerated.
Personal Issues
  1. What is your current work schedule and location
  2. Does this schedule and location work for you, and if not how could it be improved
  3. Do you have all the resources, personal, professional or otherwise; necessary to do your job
  4. Other than the issues described above, how can we make your job better, easier, more efficient etc…
  5. Other than the issues described above, how can we increase your happiness or satisfaction with your job
Finally, I opened the floor and said "Lets talk about anything and everything else":
  • Ideas
  • Gripes
  • Grumbles
  • Problems
  • Plusses
  • FUN
  • More FUN
I fully and firmly believe that if you can execute and manage what I have outlined above; you can get your people to be successful in anything you give them.

People can surprise you; if you let them.