Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Rule Of Ones

Working in one direction.

With a partner.

There is a basic rule: managers manage things and leaders lead people.

The world needs both. Which you need for a situation depends on that situation. Nothing is right everywhere all the time.

So, you think, that is very fine. Very fine indeed. Now how does that apply to me? I, for example, have a small business and don't need to worry about managing 1000 things or leading 1000 people. I am not in the thousands, just me and a few employees. The whole subject is academic, so what's for lunch?

Ah, lunch. Thank you for the reminder. We'll get to lunch as soon as we're done here, but first we must talk.

To start, let us divide the world another way, into Customer (that's you) and Developer (that's not you). Now, beyond this, let's also say that you need a piece of work done. Just for argument's sake let us say it's a web site.

Good. We are off to a fine start. Let's go another step. We have two parties and a piece of work. Now we need a relationship.

For a relationship we need the parties interacting. Luckily we have a good excuse, our web site. Our two parties will work to build one, and the working together will be the relationship.

To make a relationship work, really work, we need openness and honesty, and good faith. You don't get any more basic, or any more important. Besides this foundation you need a common goal, and responsibility.

Two parties, a project, working in tandem. Togetherness. Partnership. Check.

It's about adults cooperating, working alongside one another for a common goal. It's about going in one and the same direction. At the same time. Together. Even if you are working separately.

So here's the outline. First you agree to work together. Then you set the ground rules, and divide up responsibilities. After that you agree on a schedule (deliberate but flexible, with a set of milestones along the way). And then you get to work.

You work. And meet often. And adjust, and repeat until done.

And when you're done, you're finished.

This is all very nice, but there are those other details. The having two sides to this relationship. Two points of view. Two identities. Two separate worlds. And about leading and managing.

True, each party can be off working and temporarily out of touch. Not too far out of touch, but out. Customer and Developer each have specialties, and other things going on, and they tend to them. Capably.

Here's where flexibility helps because you can be both leader and the led, both manager and the managed, doing it all yourself, within your own sphere. You need (inside the relationship) to define and set your own goals, but you need minimal supervision. (None, in fact, except your contract.)

You must be good at self organizing, because you are it. You set the tone, prioritize, assign, and do. You are capable of building from scratch and seeing it through, and that's what you have to do.

You can work alone and not whine. You are fine with it because you have done it before and you know how. You have defined your own role. You have begun things and then finished them. You have initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit. You work hard.

You are smart.

Smart enough to listen and learn, and to share and inform. You adapt. You do things, which is what this is about.

Given these qualities, inside the relationship we've described here, you may have problems but not issues. Challenges but not disasters. Interesting times but not catastrophes. That's good.

In fact that's very good.

Let me know if you'd like to get together and cooperate on a project. You sound like my kind of folks. I think we could finish that web site just fine.



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