Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Search for the Magic Bullet

There is an understandable desire for a magic bullet; an approach that will work well and rapidly under all circumstances and in all organizations.

It doesn't exist.

Management can be quite simple in theory and extremely complicated in practice. A strategy that worked out marvelously for Company A will spark an uprising at Company B. The collegial method that was so well received in one division will be regarded as slippery in another. Sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease.

This message is not happily received in some quarters. When a management consultant says that a situation is complicated, that may be regarded as a ploy to embark on an expensive study. "Oh sure, you'd say that" is the reaction hidden behind a more polite response. There exists, however, a parallel to moments when physicians try various treatments and drugs in order to see how a particular patient responds. There is a tacit acknowledgement of the unknown.

The impatience for a quick fix may be linked to a certain amount of laziness. Being a good manager or supervisor is hard work. It requires brain power, study, patience, and a willingness to learn. Short-cuts, to borrow from an old expression, are usually mined.

Understanding that is an important part of leadership. As one leader put it, "We must move slowly because we are in a hurry." There are times when that makes enormous sense.

Wisdom involves knowing those times.


Tanmay Vora said...

Great insight Michael - I wrote an article at ActiveGarage titled "Best Practices are Contextual" and you might like reading it with reference to your post.

Michael Wade said...


Thanks for the link. I will read it.