Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bold versus Effective

Raymond Chandler, known for convoluted noir plots and the wise-cracking private eye Philip Marlowe, once gave his secret for breaking any writer's plot problem: Have someone enter the room with a gun.

There is a temptation to use Chandler's technique in management situations: Reorganize. Fire a bunch of people. Bring in a hero. Let the floggings continue until morale improves. Do something dramatic.

Occasionally it works, but only if the situation demands a shock. In many cases, the bold gesture merely glosses over the deeper problems, many of them structural, that produced the crisis in the first place. Not all superficial actions are mild. Some wear hobnailed boots. Their boldness is only on the surface.

Most crises require a seriously effective decision maker, not a dramatic one. The two can converge but if forced to make a choice, the bland but effective leader is clearly the right one. The question is not what is bold or sophisticated (sophistication can be a cover for timidity) but what is effective.


pawnking said...

Mike, you've obviously become a several-times a day webstop for me. Your insights are both consistent and fresh, which a very difficult combination to sustain. Thank you for taking the time to blog.

Michael Wade said...


Thanks! I am honored that you find it of value.