Sunday, March 21, 2010

The hard part of managing

My thinking was: I’m a natural leader, so I’m going to study what’s hard and mathematical like finance and operations research, not the touchy-feely stuff that would be easy.

When I finally got a management position, I found out how hard it is to lead and manage people. The warm, fuzzy stuff is hard. The quantitative stuff is easy — you either don’t do much of this as a manager or you have people working for you to do it. ...

The issue with consulting is that if you go straight [out of college] to work for a consultant, you develop this perspective that the hard part is the analysis and the decision. In reality, that’s not the hard part. The hard part is implementing the decision, not making it.

So the problem with consulting is you get paid $400 an hour, you do your beautiful charts, you make your PowerPoint presentation, you tell the client what they should do, and you go on to the next project. Meanwhile, you’re building up this belief that you’re a genius: you know how to analyze; you know how to make a decision; and, worst of all, you know how to implement — but all without implementing.

You can develop an absolutely incorrect perception of yourself as a great manager when, in fact, you haven’t implemented anything. You haven’t fired anybody. You haven’t introduced a product. You haven’t supported a customer. All you’ve done is make spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

You can also throw venture capital into this pile. Going into venture capital straight out of school is a big mistake because entrepreneurs start sucking up to you and ask you stuff you know nothing about — like how to run a company.

Jobs for college graduates should make them gain knowledge in at least one of these three areas: how to make something, how to sell something or how to support something.
--Guy Kawasaki on the difference between recommending and doing. HT: Alex Tsai

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