Engineers can make great managers. They have
highly-developed problem solving skills, and they have mastered knowledge
needed to lead technology-based organizations. But the road from engineering to
management can be surprisingly rocky. Management requires ways of behaving and
thinking that can seem contrary to hard-learned engineering values. This can
lead to teams of engineers, frustrated by managers who can’t manage, and newly-promoted
managers who find themselves in positions of bewildering stress.
This pyramid summarizes the Thinking Teams view of a successful
organization, effectively moving toward its goals, powered by collaborating
teams of wholehearted individuals. The pyramid builds from foundational elements; its layers show focus areas for
organizational improvement and growth.
Starting from the base:
- Self-Aware, Productive Individuals– a wonderful
alignment happens when an organization enables its members to participate in a way
that connects with their full selves, not just the conscious
tip of the mind's iceberg (
is no shortage of advice on how to be a good manager. Right now I’m looking at
a management textbook with over 500 references, and for each of those books and
articles, you could probably find hundreds more saying basically the same thing.
Why are management themes so frequently recycled? I think it’s because the
problem isn’t in theknowing
. We know enough to
construct an impossibly long to-do list of things a good manager should do. We
start down our list of good intentions, and then find our actions dictated by the
curve balls life decides to pitch our way.
In a sense, an organization is a big project. Like any
project it needs a balance of structure and flexibility; it needs a healthy
respect for the unknown, an infrastructure that fits, and courageous openness. However,
an organization is more than just a project – it is an enabling environment. Lots
of words are written about how to make organizations work, but I want to start
by asking “Why do organizations fail?”. We have lots of examples of that –
financial meltdowns, shuttle disasters, broken healthcare systems, car recalls.