When we talked before about our different levels, bricklayers, coaches, division heads and league commissioners, the question comes up, how to determine if they are effective? Many times people study different factors. In Built to Last, the eight factors one should look at are: strategy, execution, culture, structure talent, leadership, innovation, mergers and partnerships were used to determine if companies were going to last.
In Search for Excellence there were also eight factors: a bias for action, staying close to the customer, autonomy and entrepreneurship, productivity through people, hands on – value driven, stick to the knitting, simple form – lean staff, simultaneous loose-tight properties. [Editor: What do you know about any of these?]
All of these are excellent measure and they tell us something about the business, but they are like a thermometer with different parameters: temperature, barometric pressure, humidity etc. They give us a lot of insight into the weather or ways to measure a company, however, no amount of studying a thermometer is going to change the weather. Likewise, someone taking the lead in the introduction of a new order of things, is so consumed by the daily details and so effected by the changing environment in which they work, that knowledge of these things doesn't predict effectiveness.
Being familiar with these things might make someone more effective or it might make them less effective. The major determinant is going to be the influences of the outside environment. Environmental conditions (weather, altitude etc.) will affect brick laying more than strategy, past experience or culture. Whether we call someone a manager or a leader and the degree to which these ideas have an effect at different levels of the organization is an interesting question, but will it determine their effectiveness?
Beyond a certain point, do you think studying the aspects of a thermometer make you a better weatherman? How much does one need to know about the parameters of leadership to lead?