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Losing Touch with Value in Management

July 18, 2012

Does part of what you do for a living involve managing people?  Do you get
things done through coordinating the effort of others?  If this is you,
do you know how you create value? That came out wrong,
let me ask it this way, “Are you sure you create value by what you do?”

I know, maybe it sounds like a dumb question, but a majority of the people
in management I interface with actually don’t know the answer to that
question, if you watch what they do each day.

If someone were to track what you do, and derive from your behavior a
definition of how you create value, what would they write?

You see I think most people suffer from an unclear connection with what
they do that creates value, not just management, but I’m focused on
management in this blog.

If most people were paid on the value they created, as if value were widgets
that came out of a production line, that had a sales value, I’m afraid a lot of
people in management wouldn’t even know where to find the widget production line. 😉

So what happened, that the connection to value gets lost?
Hm… good question, but I better cover that in another blog.

Let me get back on track.  Ok, so if you’re in management, what would
someone observe about value creation by tracking your behavior?

Would they think that you create value by attending meetings?
Expressing your point of view?  Being good at debating?
Having the gift of restating the obvious?  Holding court?

Or would they think that you create value by building cool looking power-
point decks for meetings, with fascinating trend lines for derivatives of
someone else’s output or lack thereof?  Or maybe you create value by
reviewing those multi-slide power-point decks.

Or maybe they would think that you create value by your email activity,
or your capacity to cc people in the dozens or hundreds because
of your position.

Is it starting to dawn on you as much as it does for me, that most of what
people do in management has very weak or non-existent direct ties to value
creation?  This isn’t good.  But then, you’ve probably already noticed this and
I’m just late to the party.

What if management gone amuck is all about losing touch with what
creates value?  Losing touch, or getting diverted by all the other stuff that
can so easily fill up our schedule, inflate our sense or importance or power…
because it’s there, at the door, waiting to intrude into your life, your time.

So quick, if this is you, and actually I think it’s all of us to some degree, let
me give you a couple of points of reference for what creates value to chew
on, and then I’ll share one of my own… because work really goes much
better when you maintain a direct connection to value creation all the time.

John Kotter, in his book New Rules, says the following about creating value:
“Success in managerial jobs increasingly requires leadership.  Leadership is
differentiated from management by the ability to produce useful change.
Management is defined as the ability to monitor organizational results versus
plans, spot deviations, and quickly get activities back on track… and

1. The number one managerial objective in most firms should be
creating a revolution
2. The goal of the revolution should be to become much less hierarchial,
bureaucratic, inwardly politically focused, and a more a flexible network.
3. Create an organization that feels and operates like a smaller business,
yet retains the resource advantages of bigness.  This means operating
with speed and simplicity, having employees feel a sense of ownership,
and orienting everyone to the customer.
4. The number one impediment to cultural change in large organizations
is a lack of urgency fostered by too much historical success and not
enough bold leadership.

Ok, that’s pretty conceptual, but good stuff.  John’s saying you create value
in a management position by leading, by revolutionizing the status quo to
continually push the organization to be flatter, more nimble (that means
everyone is more directly tied to value creation, not removed from it).
But let’s take it down one notch and get a little closer to the ground level.

Look at what the Dibachi’s say in their book, Just Add Management:
“On the basis of our experience… it’s clear that a well-functioning workplace
depends on three things…
1. Establishing a professional (accountable) work culture with grownups
in charge.
2. Following basic concepts regarding priorities, processes and measuring
progress, and
3. Always striving for transparency”

Maybe you’re noding your head, thinking I’ve got to print this out, or boy do
I wish our people acted this way, or maybe you’re thinking “I still don’t get
it, now what am I exactly supposed to do to stay in touch with value creation?”

Ok, one more cut. I’ll make this my bottom line statement.

Bottom Line: If you are in management, it is incredibly easy and
pervasive to lose touch with what creates value and get involved in
a long list of other activities. To create value in management, it
boils down to doing the following:

1. Be very clear about what creates value every day and make sure
that gets done,
2. Make sure your people are working the same value-based
, as they work within their culture (the way they talk to each
other), process (the way they manage information and tasks) or
customers; and when they are not on track steer them back…
when they are on track, stay out of their way,
3. Remove obstacles for everyone who works for you.
4. Be liked for being good at providing recognition, be feared
because you hold yourself and everyone else accountable.

3 Comments. Leave new

Carla Gottlieb
July 19, 2012 10:22 am

This question is quite interesting; to take a huge step back and ponder it…
I would take time to reflect now but yikes!! I have about 50 emails to send and 200 people to CC. 🙂
Thanks, Rodney, this really is well put and thought provoking…. I liked it alot.


Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot.

I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

Rodney Brim
May 3, 2013 10:07 am

Thanks for the comment Jeannie. Helps me to know that it helps you!


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