My Management Philosophy

First published 12/2007
Original Post

I haven’t had decades of experience as a manager of people, but I have led two volunteer-based organizations and of course I have worked with people who are my bosses. I’ve also read a lot about management and leadership. Here’s what I think creates effective organizations.

What’s your vision?
Without a compelling vision for an organization, it’s very difficult to engage your great people. If you aren’t excited by your vision, then it’s unlikely that anyone in your organization is. Your vision is what ties everything your organization does together. Every task should make sense in terms of the larger picture. Your people need to feel part of something greater than themselves. Speaking of people… 

Your people are everything.
Find people who are smart, driven, not assholes and take initiative. Find out what they are good at, give them challenges to overcome, and make sure they have everything they need to overcome them. They say the secret to happiness is finding your strengths and using them. Incidentally it’s also what the best managers help their employees do. Organizations with great people do great things, as long as they avoid …

Bureaucracy = Death.
Rules are very useful - they keep people from doing stupid, wasteful and ineffective things. But nothing frustrates great people more than endless meetings, unnecessary rules and craploads of micromanaging. It also slows down your organization’s ability to adapt to new developments. Meaning you need to …

Embrace change, risk and failure.
The world is constantly changing and “we’ve always done it this way” is NEVER a good enough reason on its own for doing anything. The world is constantly changing, and if your organization isn’t, then something is wrong. You have to take risks, and some of those risks will result in failures. Know that. But do it anyway. It’s the only way to be great. But the flipside of that is that you need to …

Observe, model after and learn from the Best.
Only stupid people try to build everything up from scratch. Even if you’re doing something pretty radical/innovative, chance are, you can benefit from the best practices of other fields. Talk to people who have done what you want to do, study successful organizations. Use that knowledge to better understand what you and your organization need to do to achieve similar results in a new and different time/environment/situation.