Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Management by Walking Around - Michael Newcombe

Excellent article from Peter Bregman highlighting the management style of Michael Newcombe, general manager of Four Seasons. Many will read the article and immediately scream...that's micromanaging. Believing this style to be a bad thing. Most likely due to the fact that it involves actual work. Ha ha.

But, I'm a big big believer in the practice of management by walking around. In many ways, its the most efficient means of gathering information.

It also shines the light on areas in the organization that are traditionally kept in the dark. And bridges communication gaps between areas that most believe are independent of one another.

Perhaps the greatest impact of management by walking around is organizational change. Mr. Bregman's website says it best:
"Experience shows that an organization can spend five years implementing a "change" program - and it usually takes people five days (or less) to find a way around it and do things the way they always did."

"Organizational change is a lagging indicator of personal change. When enough people in an organization begin to do things differently, the organization changes. And personal change happens not because people are told to change. Not because they are trained to change. Not even because they are motivated to change. People change because they choose to change."
How do people choose to change? The majority of changes occurs from a negative experience. Or better yet...a person chooses to avoid change in fear of a negative experience. This is where management by walking around comes into play. Or can come into play. I've actually seen the practice where management by walking around can increase those fears. But, done right...actually shines the light into areas most people fear. Enabling people with new approaches to difficult problems.

Side note, have you seen the new Dave Robicheaux movie starring Tommie Lee Jones, In the Electric Mist? Very good. I'm sure part of the enjoyment comes from the Louisiana setting...makes me long for the East Texas backwoods. Gotta get down there this summer and eat some crawfish. Oh, and don't miss the performance of Levon Helm in the movie. Not as good as the part he played in Shooter...but still noteworthy.

Later trades,


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