Management by Example

Method / Change and Organization

Management by Example
Michael Vensky , Entrepreneur, United States

How to revive a moribund organization: management by example.

One thing about the competition, if they are hungry they never rest. Companies in today's economy cannot afford complacency and warring internal factions. Leadership by Example is a paradigm whereby a lead technologically competent individual team can blaze a path through the swamps of mediocrity, infighting, and organizational stalemate on towards the nirvana of proactive efficacy.
Your customers and your market competitors don't care whether its a storage issue, a network issue, a database issue, a configuration issue or a programming issue. When it come to blame and black eyes there are plenty to go around.
How does this all work? Let's take the typical IT infrastructure: there's the storage team, the network team, the database team, the systems administrator team, the programming teams, the capacity planning team, the security team, just to name a few. Each team often has its own tools, its own methods, its own reports and its own culture, all of which each team jealously guards from any outsiders. What's wrong with this? It's like an orchestra without a conductor, everyone is playing their own tune, to their own tempo and not worrying about how they all sound. To an IT department it means lost time, lost prestige, unhappy customers and eventually the entire department implodes and gets outsourced.
An individual or small team can work to build both tools and bridges to knit together an otherwise decoupled organization. These tools provide both a global view of the companies infrastructure and the ability to deep dive into the potential trouble spots. This all assumes a climate of universal access, trust and empowerment within the company and across the organization. This is the exact opposite of most firms where rule by fear is the norm. The team working to knit things together requires a sponsor, an enlightened leviathan, one who can cajole or compel compliance. Furthermore the leviathan must rule by using the proper type of fear. There's the fear of dying or of punishment which causes paralysis, then there's the fear of starving or of missing out, this causes movement. We want the second type of fear to be the dominant one within the organization with the fear of punishment to be brought in only as a last resort. You get more flies with honey than vinegar.
Everyone from level one/help desk to the C-level executive must be onboard and not only make the Kool-Aid, but drink the Kool-Aid. People and teams need to know that they can open up and not get crucified, that cooperation is not only on the path to prosperity but ultimately to survival. Once people learn they have nothing to fear they are more willing to share. Once light shines into the dark corners and back-waters of the organization additional resources can be brought to bear on shortcomings. Perhaps it's more staff, or more time to do a given task, or more of some other critical resource.
Once these impediments have been eliminated it's not all clear sailing by any means. There may be pockets of inertial resistance, people who just don't want to change. They should be given every opportunity to do so, however for the truly recalcitrant they need another job. Political patronage cannot hold sway when the entire organization's survival is at stake.
Now after all the human and physical obstacles have been eliminated can we see the finish line. Now we do the easy work. We build, buy, or find the tools which give use botha global view and micro views of what's going on with the infrastructure. This truly easy in a unix type environment, all that's required is CPU, memory, disk I/O an network statistics with access down tot the lowest levels possible.
A tight team with the right tools and access can own the infrastructure, work collaboratively across the various competencies to anticipate and prevent problems from ever evidencing themselves to the customer. By presenting good data and statistics, lab results, and conclusions from the literature one can persuade, win over the opposition and truly lead by example.

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