The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is 'Management'?

Management is the act of coordinating a group of people to achieve a specific goal while accounting for any Change or Uncertainty.

These are the six simple principles of Management:

  1. Recruit the smallest group of people that can do the job quickly and effectively.
  2. Communicate clearly the End Result, who is responsible for what, and the current status.
  3. Treat people with respect. Use The Golden Trifecta consistently.
  4. Create a productive Environment, and then let people do their work.
  5. Have an aggressive plan to complete the project, but don't have unrealistic expectations regarding certainty and prediction.
  6. Measure what you're doing to see if it's working, and make the necessary adjustments and Experimentations.

Do these well, and your team will be very productive.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Management'

Much has been made in business schools about "scientific management" and the need for highly educated, professionally trained managers. In reality, you can't learn to be a competent manager in a classroom-beyond a few simple principles, it's a skill best learned through experience.

Management is simple, but not simplistic.

In essence, management is the act of coordinating a group of people to achieve a specific goal while accounting for ever-present Change and Uncertainty (both discussed later.) It's like taking the helm of a ship during a storm: all you can do is move the wheel back and forth, which is simple, but it takes experience and skill to do it well.

Based on what we've learned thus far, here are six simple principles of effective real-world management:

1. Recruit the smallest group of people who can accomplish what must be done quickly and with high quality.

Comparative Advantage means that some people will be better than others at accomplishing certain tasks, so it pays to invest time and resources in recruiting the best team for the job.

Don't make that team too large, however-Communication Overhead makes each additional team member beyond a core of three to eight people a drag on performance.

Small, elite teams are best.

2. Clearly communicate the desired End Result, who is responsible for what, and the current status.

Everyone on the team must know the Commander's Intent of the project, the Reason Why it's important, and must clearly know the specific parts of the project they're individually responsible for completing-otherwise, you're inviting Bystander Apathy.

3. Treat people with respect.

Consistently using the Golden Trifecta-appreciation, courtesy, and respect-is the best way to make the individuals on your team feel Important, and is also the best way to ensure they respect you as a leader and manager.

The more your team works together under mutually supportive conditions, the more Clanning will naturally occur, and the more cohesive the team will become.

4. Create an Environment where everyone can be as productive as possible, then let people work.

The best working environment takes full advantage of Guiding Structure-provide the best equipment and tools possible, and ensure the environment reinforces the work the team is doing.

To avoid energy being sapped by the Cognitive Switching Penalty, shield your team from as many distractions as possible, which includes non-essential bureaucracy and meetings.

5. Refrain from having unrealistic expectations regarding certainty and prediction.

Create an aggressive plan to complete the project, but be aware in advance that Uncertainty and The Planning Fallacy mean your initial plan is probably incomplete or inaccurate in a few important respects.

Update your plan as you go along, using what you learn along the way, and re-apply Parkinson's Law to find the shortest feasible path to completion that works, given the necessary Tradeoffs required by the work.

6. Measure to see if what you're doing is working-if not, try another approach.

One of the primary fallacies of effective management is that it makes learning unnecessary. This mindset assumes your initial plan should be 100% perfect and followed to the letter.

The exact opposite is true: effective management means planning for learning, which requires constant adjustments along the way.

Constantly measure your performance across a small set of Key Performance Indicators -if what you're doing doesn't appear to be working, Experiment with another approach.

Do these well, and your team will be highly productive. Do them poorly, and you'll be fortunate to get anything useful done at all.

This style of management practice is not the command-and-control style of management most people think of when they hear the term. On TV and in most management literature, managers are high status executives who spend most of their time telling other people what to do and making important decisions. In practice, those behaviors are telltale signs of poor management.

The best managers don’t act like big-shot executives: they’re more like very skilled assistants, whose primary purpose is to keep the people with Economically Valuable Skills focused on improving the Five Parts of Every Business: that is, doing things that directly contribute to the company’s results. Important decisions are made by the individuals who have the most direct knowledge and experience about the area in question.

In a recent essay, software entrepreneur Joel Spolsky explains why managers should stop calling the shots and start letting people do their jobs:

Stop thinking of the management team at the top of the organization. Start thinking of the software developers, the designers, the product managers, and the front line sales people as the top of the organization... The “management team” isn’t the “decision making” team. It’s a support function. You may want to call them administration instead of management, which will keep them from getting too big for their britches.

Administrators aren’t supposed to make the hard decisions. They don’t know enough. All those super genius computer scientists that you had to recruit from MIT at great expense are supposed to make the hard decisions. That’s why you’re paying them. Administrators exist to move the furniture around so that the people at the top of the tree can make the hard decisions.

When two engineers get into an argument about whether to use one big Flash SSD drive or several small SSD drives, do you really think the CEO is going to know better than the two line engineers, who have just spent three days arguing and researching and testing? [...]

That’s the way it has to work in a knowledge organization. You don’t build a startup with one big gigantic brain on the top, and a bunch of lesser brains obeying orders down below. You try to get everyone to have a gigantic brain in their area, and you provide a minimum amount of administrative support to keep them humming along.

Management is a unique skill that requires discipline, patience, clear communication, and a commitment to keeping everyone working together without unnecessary distractions. By recruiting a good team and eliminating as much Friction as possible, you’ll achieve the results you’re seeking.

Questions About 'Management'


"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."

Peter Drucker, father of modern management theory


From Chapter 8:

Working With Others


https://personalmba.com/management/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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