Structure, Roles, and Rules


What sort of structure would help the team function innovatively? The purpose of any structure is to make sure that certain essential tasks, especially repetitive tasks, get done. Structure need not be incompatible with creativity if it realeases time and energy for creative work rather than blocking creativity with excessive rules, specialization, centralization, etc. What, therefore, needs to be done is to make an inventory of tasks that must be performed more or less repitively, and allocate these tasks to individuals within or outside the team.

 However, the roles of team members should not be defined only in terms of these tasks;  there are only minimum elements of their roles. It is important to define roles broadly and not too strictly. Some ambiguity helps interaction and role clarification, not by the leader but by the situation. Indeed, it heps to have versatile team members, i.e., persons who can double for others should the need arise. Periodic interchange of roles within the team can help develop this verstality. Researchers have indicated some specific roles in innovative teams beyond those for effective teams. The creative scientist/engineer/idea man is one role. The entrepreneur (vis-à-vis the outer world) and the intrapreneur (vis-à-vis the team members) are further roles. The entrepreneur seeks new missions for the group. The intrapreneur seeks new activities within the broad mission for group members. The protector-defender-sponsor is a fourth role, whose function is to get the team the resources it needs for innovative work from the larger system of which it may be a part, and also to defend the team from external pressures or attacks. The gatekeeper is a fifth role, that of bringing to the team essential market, technical, or political intelligence from outside that can become the basis for meaningful divergent thinking. These roles need not be played by different individuals. The important point is that they should get played.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Is this Meeting Genuinely Necessary?


A “maybe” response indicates only limited need for the meeting and shows that further thought is required. Only a “yes” is a positive justification for calling a meeting.

 

The same question needs to be asked before attending a meeting. If the meeting is not necessary and you can avoid it, do so. If you have to attend, try to use the time to shorten your workload to compensate for the lost hours.

 

Many managers find it hard to judge if a meeting is needed or superfluous. There are some guidelines:

1.    Is the meeting being called to exchange information or viewpoints?

a.       If the meeting is to discuss viewpoints, it is probably a necessary conference. If the meeting is strictly to distribute information, the meeting is probably unnecessary. Meetings are most effective when used to find solutions or resolutions to conflicts. A meeting held for the sole purpose of imparting information had better have some pretty spectacular revelations. This in all likelihood should be classed as an inspirational conference, because important news is seldom passed along without editorializing or explanations. Inspirational meetings are difficult to conduct, because they are based on emotion, but there are times when the troops need boosting or, conversely, deflating.

b.      Training meetings appear to be an exception to the don’t-meet-to-exchange-information concept. They are not. Distributing information in advance allows the meeting to be used for developing concepts and testing individual understanding. This is a better use of everyone’s time. This is not to downplay the importance of instructional sessions. It is just to set this category of communications apart from other meetings.

c.       Information, facts, figures, sales data, market intelligence, production numbers, personnel reviews, and more, can be disseminated more effectively by memo than meeting. Chances are, the memo is going to be written anyway passed out at the meeting. Distributing a memo is okay if there is other business on hand, but calling a meeting solely as a means of handing paper to other managers is inappropriate.

d.      Meetings are at their best when used to generate expressions of viewpoints or concepts, or to develop a policy.

e.       Meetings are at their worst when used to check individual progress on various projects. There are few more mind-dulling experiences than to sit at a conference table and hear about the status of tasks that are not even remotely connected with yours. These sections often turn into excuse contests with rambling dissertations on the reasons behind delays or problems.

f.        Meetings are generally not an efficient way to dispense information. If this is the primary reason for the gathering, then rethink the need for convening.

2.    Can one-on-one conversations or even one-on-two conversations accomplish what needs to be done? Or is a larger group necessary?

a.       There’s a difference between a meeting and a conversation between two or three people. A conversation is relaxed, informal, and rarely has the time constraints posed by a meeting. Those present sense the difference.

b.      Decisions are rarely made in conversations. In fact, some managers and executives become agitated when two or three members of a committee converse and come to a consensus without the others present. This nervousness is not assuaged by a follow-up memo which details the conversation or even by the fact that the decision may be nothing more than a unified front, in no way binding upon the group.

c.       If conversation will suffice to avoid another meeting, then have the talk. Inform the other committee members or interested parties. Those smart enough to advance in management will welcome one less meeting on their schedule.

3.    Is this meeting being called because someone or some group doesn’t have enough to do? It happens all the time. Workloads in an organization can be unbalanced. This week, Production has more than it can handle, while Sales is costing. One way to fill the day for Sales is to call a meeting. This is more common than anyone dares admit.

4.    Is the agenda for the called-meeting vague? Or worse, is there no agenda at all?

a.       As a basic rule of meeting skill, do not go to a meeting where there is no agenda. If you have to attend, go prepared for the worst.

b.      If a manager cannot express on paper what the meeting is about, there probably shouldn’t be a meeting at all.

c.       If you are asked to a meeting and no agenda is given to you in advance, find the person who called the meeting and ask for one. If it is verbal, take notes.

d.      Many times, the person discovers he or she has vague ideas about why the meeting is needed. This experience can benefit both of you.

5.    Is there any reason to meet other than the fact that your group has a set, regular, once-a-week mandatory meeting? Top management often wants certain employees to get together each and every week, to discuss items of importance, or to match timing, balance workloads, and do ongoing, necessary house-keeping.

a.       After a few sessions, these meetings fall into a routine and small talk dominates.

b.      The day before, the manager should do a little checking. Is there actually a need to convene? Could a more limited gathering accomplish the same thing? Would a memo suffice? Could matters be handled by a phone call? If the answer is yes, skip the meeting.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Eyesight, Mindsight, Winners, Losers, Dreams, and … Success


A great life always begins with a dream—a vision. Each person has two kinds of vision: Eyesight and mindsight. Eyesight tells us what objects are around us. Eyesight forms pictures of trees, people, buildings, mountains, water, stars, and other physical, tangible things. Eyesight is physical.

Mindset is different from eyesight. Mindset is the power to see not what is but what can be when human intelligence is applied. Mindset is the power to dream. Mindset forms pictures of the future – the home we want, the family relationship we desire, the income we will enjoy, vacations we want to take, or our wealth at some point in time.

Eyesight is strictly physical and sees only reality. Mindsight reveals what is not yet real nor tangible. How we choose to use our mindset to dream determines our success (achievement, influence, and satisfaction), our wealth (income, net worth, and physical well-being), and our happiness (respect, joy, and commitment).

People differ little in eyesight. At a very early age, all children using eyesight can clearly distinguish objects, such as people, buildings, stars, and water. But people differ enormously in mindsight or mental images of what is not yet real or tangible. A great majority of people see spending a life in a mediocre, modest-paying job. In the social department, their mindsight sees little joy but lots of boredom and big problems. And in the home department, they see, at best, only an ordinary, dull, problem-plagued existence.

On the other hand, a few success-directed dreamers see the future as filled with challenge. They see work as a road to advancement and prestige, and to large rewards. Creative dreamers see social relationships as encouraging, as stimulating, and as fun. In their home department, they see excitement, adventure, and happiness. They choose to dream of a good and great life.

Whether we spend life winning or losing depends on how we use our mindsight—what we choose to see or to dream. Each of us has the power to make this life a heaven or a hell, depending on how we choose to dream about it. Those who see life as heaven are the winners; those who view life as hell are losers.

Some believe luck or chance determines their destiny. These people think that fortunes, success, and the good life depend on the roll of the dice, on the spin of a wheel, or on a randomly selected number in a gamble.

Wishing is different from dreaming. Wishing is passive and inactive. Wishing is an idle pastime with no brains or effort behind it. But dreaming is backed up with an action plan to produce results. Anyone can wish. But a dreamer takes action on what he or she wants.

You can divide people you know into two categories: The winners and losers. Winners are active dreamers working to convert their dream into positive, tangible accomplishments. Losers are inactive faultfinders who believe the system is against them and luck or fate determines what will happen. Losers are cynical. Losers are pessimists. Losers are selfish—not my job; why should I help; nobody ever did anything for me. Losers want something for nothing.

Winners are people of good will. Winners are generous. Winners know “there’s no free lunch,” “Sacrifice means investing in the future.”

People who dream big think, “Regardless of how good or bad the situation is now, it will get even better. It always does. They bank on a great future.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight