flowing motion

Posts Tagged ‘management style

Harare International Ariport
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Yes, there are wild animals in Africa and sometimes you meet them

A jet on a domestic commuter flight collided with a squad of warthogs that had found their way onto the runway during the night at Harare International Airport.  The jet hit the pigs just as it screaming down the runway in take off.  The undercarriage was damaged and the plane veered off the runway at speed.  The pilot brought the plane to a safe stop and all 30-40 passengers were evacuated safely though obviously startled.

That’s my summation.  I am following this story because I want to know what happened to the pigs.  It’s called the zeigarnik effect. We always want to know the ending!  No one says what happened to the pigs (or whether anyone has mended the airport fence).  So I keep reading the stories to find out!

Manage for animals and be to-the-point ~ very to-the-point when you work in Africa

While I’ve watched the story I read an extract from a statement from the airlines chief executive.

In exactly five sentences, the CEO summarizes the situation and he does so in logical order.

A template for perfect business writing

I’ve copied the statement below and added a heading before each line.  It’s a case study of a perfect business memo.

Situation : something has happened and we must pay attention

“An Air Zimbabwe MA60 aircraft impacted with warthogs during the take-off roll on November 3, 2009 at approximately 19:36.

Mission : this is why we must pay attention

This resulted in a rejected take-off.

Execution: Specific events in logical order

The aircraft was on the take-off roll and was about to lift off the ground when it hit the five warthogs.

The nose and left main landing gears collapsed after the impact.

The aircraft veered off to the left side of the runway and stopped off the runway with damage on the engine propeller and on the wing tip.”

Missing:

What will happen next and who to contact?

NB:  There is no mention that the passengers got off unharmed because no one is hurt.  We take it for granted that if casualties were not reported, that there is NTR – nothing to report.

I still want to know what happened to the pigs.  I know it is not particularly relevant. It is just the zegarnik effect, I know.

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Idiosyncracies that we love

I am a serial migrant and one thing you learn “on the road” is that every community has phrases and ideas that are deeply coded.  They simply don’t mean what they sound as if they mean.

When I first arrived in UK, I heard people saying “Bless”, quite a lot.  I even asked someone what they meant.

It was a dumb thing to do, of course. When he said “Bless”, he was saying “Oh sod off, I can’t be bothered with your troubles.”  He certainly wasn’t going to translate accurately.

He said he was commiserating.  And no, he did not follow through on what I was asking him to do and what I though he was obliged to do. Lol.

Legal systems differ

I remember someone returning from UK to Zimbabwe after studying for four years here and he told us seriously that he was going to study face recognition because it was important in jury trials.

I remember looking around the room and thinking, “Who is going to tell him?”   No one spoke up, so I said as gently as I could, “X, we don’t have juries in Zimbabwe.”

And we don’t have juries in Zimbabwe not because of the current troubles but because we have Roman-Dutch law.  So does South Africa, and oddly Sri Lanka.

On the look out for deep differences

Because of this difference, I am always on the look out for things that I just “don’t get” – where I might be jumping the wrong way because I grew up in another system.

Look at this quotation from a famous US lawyer, Newton Minow.

“After 35 years, I have finished a comprehensive study of European comparative law. In Germany, under the law, everything is prohibited, except that which is permitted. In France, under the law, everything is permitted, except that which is prohibited. In the Soviet Union, under the law, everything is prohibited, including that which is permitted. And in Italy, under the law, everything is permitted, especially that which is prohibited.[9]

Which category does UK fit in to?

It is my understanding that Roman law fits into the German camp.  Unless I am allowed to do it, I can’t.

And it is my understanding, that English law (I am not sure about Scots law) is in the French category.  Do whatever you like.  We will say if you can’t.

An example of how these differences create confusion

This is how confusion arises in practice.

When I read a sign that says “Parking is Permitted with a Permit from 10-11 and 2-3”, my first reaction is puzzlement – followed by a eh? Why would I want to park here from 10-11 and 2-3?

No, it doesn’t mean that at all.  It means you can park here whenever you want, but you must

a) move your car between 10-11 and 2-3

or

b) buy a ticket.

I bet you thought that was obvious.  I am still confused every time I see that sign but as it only costs 40p to park there all day it is a confusion I will put up with.

Does this difference account for the nanny state and other British wonders?

When I heard the Unions negotiating for workers to go to work in shorts during this past very hot week, I got into a Twitter conversation about the nanny state and I started to wonder if this difference accounts for differences in management style as well.

The differences between Germanic and Anglo meetings

Meetings in Germanic countries are brisk.  You go in armed with facts and figures and MAKE DECISIONS, quickly and definitively.

Anglo meetings swirl around this way and that with no agenda and no outcome.  As an American-trained, Indian-born manager used to say in NZ (nudging me with his elbow and whispering out the side of his mouth):  “Sit back and wait. We will be here for the next hour discussing process and there will be no goal”.  Sure enough, for the next hour we discuss who wants what.  What we are trying to achieve collectively is not mentioned at all.  Who knows whate we were there for but we’ve had a spirited discussion about individual preferences.

What does it mean to ‘manage’ in the two systems?

I think I prefer a system where everything is allowed unless it is prohibited.

But possibly when you grow up in  system like that you aren’t used to designing systems or spaces where things happen.

And then you get a profileration of crazy rules.  10 signs per 100 yards, or whatever the figure is for British roads.

And it also means that one of your choices in life is to sit and do nothing.  Though some people are trying to prohibit that too.  This illustrates my point.  Designing and organizing for action is quite different from banning the few things that we may not do. Banning someone from doing X will not get them to do Y.

Alternatives

This thought process is starting to feel like ‘reaching’ to me.  But to try to illustrate my point.

What if you simply told people to drive safely and they will be accountable for what they smash into?

What if you told people to pay their taxes but that we would display online how much they paid?

Life can be made very simple if we choose.

And we shouldn’t have to tell people what to wear to work.  Really. If it is hot, wear shorts.  If it is cold, wear a jumper.

Of course, if you cannot afford a change of clothes, that would be my concern.  I’ve been brought up in system where managers are supposed to make things possible.  We are certainly accountable if people cannot see the way forward and don’t have the resources to get there.

Have a great weekend!


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