As someone who is passionate about building systems and processes that make things happen, management is a both a science (to be studied) and a philosophy (to be practiced) that is essential to life as I know it. I have studied, practiced and appreciated different management styles throughout my career. My own preferred management style was something that I determined very early: as a manager, I assess my teams by how they perform in my absence. Those who have worked with me often remark how much direct responsibility they have to make decisions, even when I am present. This is important because it is only by ensuring that they have freedom to operate in my presence that I will have any inkling of how they will perform in my absence – the ultimate behaviour that I track. Much of the success of this approach relies on having strong colleagues and collaborators, and a few other factors.
Practicing management this way has unlocked a trove of learnings that has helped me to build better processes and better systems and ultimately to secure better results. It has also helped me to understand and to appreciate other management styles. It is no surprise that I automated my very first office job while working as a Finance Trainee in a multinational firm. I had been hired to focus on completing bank reconciliations. While it was good and relevant experience, there were patterns that could be discerned as you worked your way down the learning curve. I found that my mind was always busy observing and absorbing how people worked: fluctuations in the quality of their work, things that enhanced productivity and things that derailed it. Naturally I also analysed everything that I was doing myself and it was instantly clear that I could produce an algorithm and develop software – which I did – that completely eliminated the need for me to be there to do that job. I was reassigned several times, each time, applying myself while also observing from a distance to determine how to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
My early experiences provide important framing: my first qualification after secondary school was a Diploma in Management. This was before any university education and before my advanced studies in economics, public policy and accountancy. And so my mind was relatively free of key influences at the time that I steeped myself into Taylor’s theories, Mintzberg’s roles, Maslow’s Hierarchy, Fayol’s principles, McGregor’s XY theory, Herzberg’s theories on motivation, Weber on bureaucracy and organisation, Porter on competition, Drucker on organisation theory and much more. I read several of the text books from cover to cover and well ahead of the class schedule. I also read other text books that were not in our course list, only to see how different authors tackled the similar topics. Yes I was hooked and this obsession played out in my assignments thereafter.
In the years that followed my first job, I have travelled the world and I have applied my mind to challenges in the public and the private sectors and also to challenges faced by non-profits, individuals, small and large organisations and more. Each assignment is a cherished opportunity to dialogue with an old “friend”, standing on the shoulders of giants as we solve problems using a combination of frameworks and an understanding of the specific context.
If my expertise can help you to achieve your objectives, then let’s collaborate.