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by Alan Hargreaves

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Entries in management (61)


Delegation: the power of someone else

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Smart Vs dumb.

I’ve made some great decisions but also plenty that weren’t so great. What’s the difference between them?

Try this. Write down ten decisions, five smart, five dumb. They can be about anything, business, sport, personal. Then look for some common threads. Years ago, I did this on the back of a napkin.

This is what I found.

With smart ones, I knew what I was doing, was good at doing it, and sought help where I knew I needed it. Dumb ones were the opposite. I didn’t really know what I was doing, wasn’t good at it and was so afraid people would discover my lack of expertise I didn’t ask for advice. 

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Why you need to get out more

Great ideas don’t show up at the office. 

“One damn thing after another.” According to a book called Managing by Harvard professor Henry Mintzberg, that defines the average day for most managers. There’s always something to handle.

He’s right. Stuff keeps happening. No one ever came into my office and said, “I just want you to know everything is going great.”

Strategy and leadership play a big role in business theory, but day-to-day action defines the job. To be effective, you can’t confine strategic thinking to the two-day annual offsite. Somehow you have to mix the two.

How can you un-clutter your head and keep open to new ideas?

Once, it might have been done over the long lunch. It wasn’t unusual to resolve issues over port. New initiatives could arise magically out of the cigar smoke.

Times have changed.

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The Ugly Reality Behind Innovation

Your job is to undermine the free market

Odd, isn’t it? Business supports the idea of free competition but spends most of its time trying to undermine it.

That’s the job. Call it creative destruction, innovation or disruption – the principle is still the same. Somehow, you have to find a way of making the playing field uneven.

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Leadership? No Worries

Things to do about that fear stuff.

The deep end can be scary. When I was sixteen, I led an advance party to prepare the site for our annual cadet camp. Small beer, you would think. But not for me.

I was chosen because I’d performed well in other roles but this was different. When I assembled the team, I had no idea what I was doing. The main task was to create tent lines for about 300 cadets. I explained the job to the team. Then everything went quiet.

What got us started?

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Beating Inertia

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What’s your big opportunity?

You probably know that you or your firm can go better. You are aware of specific strengths and you know you could knock the cover off the ball if you really gave it your best shot. Trouble is you don’t seem to get around to it.

Can you do anything about it?

There’s a couple of roadblocks you need to clear. The first is that you only need one idea, not lots of them. Having too many great projects can create more inertia than not having any.

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