Wednesday, October 31, 2012


A good meeting is not necessarily a pleasant meeting
Tom Ricks, military affairs journalist
Tom Ricks has an article in the October 2012 Harvard Business Review magazine on the subject of accountability. As a military affairs journalist, he takes his lessons learned from the management history of the US Army.
Although the article, in whole, is behind a subscription wall, a good executive summary and a podcast (10min, free) with Ricks pretty much gives all the major points.
Ricks starts off quoting Peter Drucker
It is the duty of the executive to remove ruthlessly anyone—and especially any manager—who consistently fails to perform with high distinction. To let such a man stay on corrupts the others.
It is grossly unfair to the whole organization.It is grossly unfair to his subordinates who are deprived by their superior’s inadequacy of opportunities for achievement and recognition. Above all, it is senseless cruelty to the man himself. He knows that he is inadequate whether he admits it to himself or not.
Rick's theme is really taken from Drucker's advice: be ruthless in evaluating performance and quickly relieve those that don't perform. Perhaps it's just a round peg in a square hole, and another job will bring out the better qualities.

But sometimes it's the Peter Principle: you rise to your level of incompetence. Then, you need to be dialled back by someone.

A point that Ricks makes but does not dwell on is the need for having KPI's that are actually meaningfully connected, cause-and-effect, between performance and results. It's no coincidence that in the same magazine there is an article exactly on that point, "True Measures of Success".,