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The New Game of Management

Today’s managers and supervisors are under tremendous, and often competing, pressures.  They’re challenged to balance short-term results with long-term focus. They must keep costs down but drive ever-increasing levels of contribution and value. They must follow directives and think outside of the box. And they have to do it all at once.

Analogies abound. A manager’s job is akin to spinning plates, juggling chainsaws, herding cats, or navigating the whitewater rapids of change. It’s also akin to a trending app in the Apple Store, Nerdy Workout. (Yes, I do have kids… and in the spirit of full-disclosure the developer of this app is Joe Rothenberg, a brilliant young man and my son’s former college roommate.)

So Many Moving Parts

This new game requires carefully-timed movements to avoid risks and achieve results. To me, it immediately resembles the life of a manager in a typical organization… and the many moving parts they orchestrate with precision and care each day. Multiple tasks must be executed in an ever-changing and frequently unpredictable landscape. Projects must move fast to leverage openings and opportunities… or slow down to sidestep problems. Resources shift (or are eliminated), requiring energy and effort to adjust. Done well, it comes off as a well-choreographed dance… or a well-played game of Nerdy Workout.

Nerdy Workout players (primarily new GenY entrants to the workforce) also recognize the leadership analogies and lessons:

“Dealing with the alternating responsibilities (arms) while avoiding the distractions (monsters) mimics my own professional experience.”   – Paul

“While it may be faster to deal with one thing at a time, in order to get the greatest results (score) you have to keep a balance of variables.” – Diane

“Sometimes it’s the simple solutions that yield the greatest results.” – Brett

“Don’t underestimate the ability for seemingly simple distractions to derail your plans. In this game – and in life – the best laid plans can be foiled by small monsters.”  – Nick

Winning the Game

So, how does one win the game (of management or Nerdy Workout)?  It comes down to four key principles.

  • Know the end game. Take pains to clarify and keep a keen focus on your goals.  Distractions will always present themselves. But you will be able to quickly put them into perspective and respond appropriately when you understand what you’re striving to achieve.
  • Work the parts while keeping an eye on the whole. Being a manager can be dizzying for many reasons…not the least of which is that you must constantly attend to the micro and the macro. You must work the day-to-day details while also remaining focused on the big picture. Let either go and both are in jeopardy.
  • Use the resources available to you. Wishing for more budget or lamenting the loss of a headcount adds little organizational value.  Instead, carefully consider the resources you do have at your disposal and deploy them strategically.
  • Have some fun. Failure is not fatal. Learn from each round and use that knowledge to perform better next time. When you’re enjoying yourself, others will too… and the results will follow naturally!

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