I HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH GROUPS OF SENIOR MANAGERS to develop their planning and management skills.The most aspect of the course was how often I heard external excuses as to why goals were not achievable.
“Our director won’t give me the budget.”
“I don’t have the right people.”
“My team is already working on five other projects.”
What I saw in these senior managers was very much an “Or Attitude”. Management thinking that says, “I can give you results, or I can develop the organisation’s talent pipeline. But don’t expect me to do both!”
And vs. Or
In Edward De Bono’s six thinking hats, he discusses the Black Hat. As described by Wikipedia, it is the period during the problem solving process for: Bad points judgment – logic applied to identifying flaws or barriers.
Unfortunately, many people forget to look in the mirror, as their default hat is often the black hat. It is easier in life to tell someone why a problem can’t be solved rather than how it can be creatively approached. We are often already limiting our opportunities by the way we approach solutions, by adopting an ‘Or Attitude’. An example from the aforementioned managers lives, is that they see their problem as only having enough resources to develop their team, OR achieve the results expected by headquarters. To achieve both is already unthinkable for them.
By shifting our thinking to ‘AND Thinking’, we are now pro-actively thinking of solutions and removing the imaginary parameters we are placing on ourselves. By doing this, we can begin to think of how to accomplish both. Certainly, this will involve putting people, who don’t have enough experience or aren’t yet qualified, into challenging roles. This is a risky proposition that often leads managers to spend more time on coaching and mentoring than solving the technical or functional issues that they are trained to handle. And yet, that is exactly what senior managers should be doing if they are to move from manager to leader. Educating managers on ‘And Thinking’ and getting them to understand how to take strategic chances on the people in their team is the key to organisational development.
If you are already thinking about how it cant be done, then reach up, take that black hat off, and lock it in the drawer. AND, throw away the key!