Management Transformations


Partho Pratim Chowdhury
Lecturer, HR & Training and Development
NSHM Academy

You Are Just 1 Click Away from Transforming Any Group into A Finely-Tuned Team Using Easy, Proven and Fun Activities that Professional Trainers Don't Want You to Know!"

Liven-up your meetings and help your team soar!

* Improve communication
* Work toward common goals
* Foster healthy competition
* Strengthen relationships
* Break-down barriers and reduce conflicts
* Improve problem solving skills
* Recognize and appreciate everyone's contributions
* Get to know each other better
* Identify and capitalize on the team's strengths
* Create a motivating and enjoyable environment
* Have a ton of fun!

Here's a brief description of just some of the 12 activities:

Building Castles on The Air

This energizing eye-opener is one of my favorites. It really brings out people's natural tendency to compete and challenges them to think creatively to achieve measurably better results. They could learn from other team members, they could learn from their mistakes in the first round, they could even share resources to create a bigger win for everyone... but will they? People are amazed by their successes when the team pulls together and a great discussion follows on how a cohesive team can achieve incredible results.

What Should We Do About The Neighbours?

Rather than really listening most people just wait for their turn to talk! While participants first think this exercise is about persuading others, it's really about listening and mutual respect, especially when you don't agree. Your meeting room will be filled with great laughs and insights as your group sees firsthand how to increase their appreciation for each others' contributions and solve problems much quicker than ever before.

How High Will You Bid?

This fast-paced activity is a great way to reinforce how collaboration and healthy competition will create greater wins for everyone. It's a game of strategy, communication, and trust. How much money is in each envelope? How much are you willing to risk? Should you cooperate with the others or just watch out for yourself? Will others look out for you? This is a real thought-provoker and extremely "real world." Your group will talk about it for years.

A Vision is Worth A Thousand Words

This extremely energizing activity will help your team communicate a shared vision for their future and focus on what they need to do to turn that vision into a reality. I first tried this exercise with a group of upper-level managers thinking it would never work, and they insisted that I give them more time because they were enjoying it so much. Now it's one of my standards. Your team will love it and you'll love the results!

A Puzzling Team

At first your group will think that there's no challenge to this highly interactive activity, but there's a sudden surprise when participants realize that in order to "win" they must think about their other team members and help them to solve their problems, too. No more working in a vacuum. Your group will clearly see that they must remain aware of what others need and what others have to contribute in order for the entire organization to thrive.

An Egg-Citing Place to Work

As you may have guessed from the title, this does involve an egg or two. This tons-of-fun activity helps your team to solve complex problems together while confronted with limited resources, competition, limited budgets and time constraints. It's a real test of working together to reach a common goal and maintaining a positive attitude when things don't go according to plan. You'll love how easy this is to apply to your "real world" (and it offers great picture taking opportunities, too).

The Domino Effect

What's the number one complaint most team members voice? "We need to communication better!" This easy-to-conduct activity is one that my clients still talk about years later! It's fun, it's frustrating, it's totally experiential, it's filled with laughter, and it's the perfect activity to help identify the barriers that are in the way of effective communication in your environment and how they can be eliminated.

Time management

Time management teaches a number of techniques that aim to increase the effectiveness of a person in getting the things done that need to be done. Time management is somewhat of a misnomer as time passes without regard to what we do; the only thing we can manage is ourself. Hence time management is mostly about self management. There are a number of tools, techniques and attitudes that can help:

* Todo list
* Goal setting
* Proactiveness
* Win-win opportunities
* Understanding others
* Improving yourself

Todo list
A todo list is a standard tool in time management. It usually is a flat list of tasks that a person needs to complete. To increase the efficiency of the ordinary todo list, prioritize the tasks in four different categories:

1. important and urgent,
2. important and not urgent,
3. not important and urgent,
4. not important and not urgent.

Effective time management is learning say no to tasks in categories 3 and 4 to make more time for tasks in categories 1 and 2. Freeing yourself from doing the unimportant tasks leaves more time to focus on the important matters.


There are three different type of goals you can set for yourself:

* Rational goals: specific goals for the short term
* Directional goals (also known as Domain planning): general direction for the longer term
* Muddling through: if the environment is in flux this might be your best option

All three types of goal setting have their application.

Rational goals

Rational goals are the most clear and definite from the three types of goal setting listed above. The primary application of this kind of goal setting is for short range only. Each goal of this type should be formulated according to the SMART principles:

* S imply stated and specific
* M easureable
* A s if now: written in the present tense
* R easonable and believable i.e., within your control and influence
* T imed (with a date) and toward what you want and it should answer the following questions:
* What do I want to accomplish?
* Why am I doing this? 
* Who is involved?
* Where is this going to take place?
* When will this goal be accomplished?

Directional goals
Directional goals or domain planning is goal setting for the longer term. The outcome is not predictable. These goals should answer the question: What do I want to accomplish?

Muddling through
This kind of goal setting is applicable when the environment is in flux and the goals are uncertain. It answers the question: What should we do?

Tips on goal setting
To keep focussed you should aim high and visualize those goals. Then focus on one area at a time. Use reminders to not forget about the other areas. Remain flexible and adapt to new situations as they develop.

To keep motivated you should first assess if there is support for your goals. Share your goals and commitments with others. Work on one or two things each day and do the hardest thing first. Use subgoals and reward yourself appropriately along the way. Stay positive and keep active.


Benchmarking is a process used in management and particularly strategic management, in which businesses use industry leaders as a model in developing their business practices. This involves determining where you need to improve, finding an organization that is exceptional in this area, then studying the company and applying it's best practices in your firm. Benchmarking systematicly studies the absolute best firms, then uses their best practices as the standard of comparison, a standard to meet or even surpass.

Benchmarking recognizes that no company is exceptional at everything. That is why it is an ongoing process involving firms from any industry and any country. It is not a one-shot event. There is no room for complacency. Benchmarking requires that you constantly search for better solutions. The rationnale is, If you continuosly search for best practices in the best firms around the world, you should become an exceptional company.

Every function and task of your business can be benchmarked, from production, to marketing, to purchasing, to information technology management, to customer service.

Some authors call benchmarking "best practices benchmarking" or "process benchmarking". This is to distinguish it from what they call "competitive benchmarking". Competitive benchmarking is used in competitor analysis. When researching your direct competitors you also research the best company in the industry (even if it serves a different location or market segment and is therefore not a direct competitor). This benchmark company is then used as a standard of comparison when assessing your direct competition and yourself.

A process similar to benchmarking is also used in technical product testing and in land surveying. See the article benchmark for these applications.


(1) Identify your problem areas - Because benchmarking can be applied to any business process or function, a range of research techniques may be required. They include: informal conversations with customers, employees, or suppliers; exploratory research techniques such as focus groups; or indepth marketing research, quantitative research, surveys, questionnaires, reengineering analysis, process mapping, quality control variance reports, or financial ratio analysis.

(2) Identify organizations that are leaders in these areas - Look for the very best in any industry and in any country. Consult customers, suppliers, financial analysts, trade associations, and magazines to determine which companies are worthy of study.

(3) Study their best practices - An initial study can be done at a good university library or online. This will give you an overview, however more detailed information will require an in-person visit. Phone the CEO and ask if a group of your managers and employees can visit their operations for an hour. Be forthright as to the purpose of the visit. Most CEOs will be flattered and agree to the request. Make it clear that any information obtained from the visit will be shared with them. Determine what subject areas will be off-limits. Ask if camera or video recorders are acceptable. Prepare two lists well in advance: a list of your objectives, and a list of questions. Choose 2 to 5 visitors, people that are closest to the issue, that will be responsible for implementing any recommendations, and cover a broad range of functional responsibilities. Occasionally an outside consultant is included in the visit team so as to provide an alternative perspective. Meet with your employees to explain the purpose of the visit and assign one or two questions to each employee. Explain what subject areas are off limits. Ask them to think about how the visit could benefit their area, and ask them to device more questions. Stay away from questions that could cause legal problems (eg., price fixing or new product development). Send a confirmation letter one week before the visit stating the date, time, and location of the visit, the number of visiters and their positions, your objectives, and a list of possible questions. Visits are typically 1 to 3 hours long. When at the site, provide a token gift to show that you appreciate the opportunity, keep focused on your objectives, give praise where it is due, and do not criticize. Look for anything remarkable or unexpected. As soon as you get back to your office (or hotel), have an immediate debriefing. Discuss what you have learnt and how you can apply it. Make sure that every visitor has an action plan detailing how they will be implementing the new information in their job. Some formal analysis (such as process mapping) of the benchmarked process may be necessary. After several weeks, phone back the CEO to express your appreciation and give concrete examples of how the knowledge gained from the visit will be used in your company. Send them a copy of any written reports about the visit before they are distributed. This allows them to correct inaccuracies and modify sensitive or propriortory information.

(4) Implement the best practices - Delegate responsibility for actions to individuals or cross-functional teams. Set measurable goals that are to be accomplished within a specified time frame. Monitor the results. Get key personnel to give you a brief (one page) summary of how the immplementation is proceeding. Spread the information through out the entire organization.

(5) Repeat - Benchmarking is an ongoing process. Best practices can always be made better.

Cost of benchmarking

Benchmarking is a moderately expensive process, but most companies find that it more than pays for itself. The three main types of costs are:

* Visit costs - This includes hotel rooms, travel costs, meals, a token gift, and lost labour time.
* Time costs - Members of the benchmarking team will be investing time in researching problems, finding exceptional companies to study, visits, and implementation. This will take them away from their regular tasks for part of each day so additional staff might be required.
* Benchmarking database costs - Organizations that institutionalize benchmarking into their daily procedures find it is useful to create and maintain a database of best practices and the companies associated with each best practice.

Get promoted -
develop first class management skills NOW!
This is the career builder you've been looking for !


Hello, welcome to the path to success!

Let me ask you a question - how did you get to be a manager?

Most people are appointed to a management role because they are very good at something. Often that something is not managing people - it may be engineering, administration, purchasing, accounts, marketing, maintenance, law or some other professional expertise. Or it may be that you are an entrepreneur - a driving force, full of ideas and vision.

Does this sound familiar?

The problem here is that few of these specialisms include training in managing people. Some of them include a little bit of training in self-management, but most only skim the surface.
You're not alone. Most of us have been there; we've made the mistakes and, hopefully, learned a bit by trial and error. One or two people never do get the hang of management and become either 'do-nothing' managers, or a mini-dictator!

You wouldn't be reading this if either of those describes you! You obviously want to get the best from your team so let's look at how we can help you.

Who am I? My name is Lesley Morrissey and I'm a manager, a coach and a trainer. I've been working with people in management roles for 15 years and have learned from my own mistakes and successes and from those that my clients have experienced. (I even used my management skills to help me to pass my motorcycle test - but that's another story!) I discovered, the hard way, that there isn't much practical help around for people who realize that they need help to achieve the success they want as a manager, without reading a ton of dry text books and attending weeks of management training.

Why is this important?

Because your team should see you as a role model. It will be hard to get them to improve their working practices and approach if you're not being seen to be doing these things yourself - it's called credibility!
* you will be much more effective
* able to get more done in less time
* get great results with less effort.

This situation is common to more managers than you might imagine. As a trainer I quickly realized this and after a few years of continuously delivering training programmes in the same subjects and dealing with the same issues in coaching sessions I decided to write some basic guides to help people just like we all - I called them 'Hands on Management', because that's what they are - practical management skills you can use straight away.

Because I got fed up with finding exercises and case studies that bore no resemblance to the trainees personal working environment I also decided that these guides should be related to each person's 'real world'. This means that they provide tools that you can apply right away at work with your staff.
Of course, it isn't really just for you. There are lots of ideas and techniques you can pass on to your staff. These will work just as well for them as they do for you. Imagine what it would be like if everyone in your team developed first class time management skills - wouldn't that make a difference to your output? You'll soon be able to show them simple techniques that will make huge differences to their work rates.

Managing yourself offers you:

* A wide range of management skills presented in separate units mean that you can pick the ones that you need the most, and you can have as many or as few as you want - or get them one at a time.
* Straightforward and readable presentation means that you just have a short and easy to read so you won't get bogged down in dry theory.
* The presentation of management subjects in straightforward language, conversational style makes it easier to follow and remember.
* Small bites of information mean that you don't get information overload and find yourself struggling to take it all on board. This system ensures you get what you need in simple, easy-to-follow, practical language.
* Tools aim to relate to the your own work situation giving you something that is immediately usable
If this isn't enough for you, you'll also get some additional benefits:
* You won't need to translate 'theory' into 'how this works for me' which makes it much simpler and easier to use what you've learned.
* You start improving skills as you read as you consider your own current skills and start to see how new approaches will improve your results.
* You'll develop personal skills that will add to your CV for the future - better positions, raises to your salary and will make that dream job a real possibility.
* Many of these skills can be used outside work so they enhance other areas of your life.
* When you're operating on a more effective level you'll get great results, spend less time getting them, get more out of your job and get more compliments and recognition for what you've achieved.
* By improving your working techniques you'll suffer less stress from trying to do everything at once.
* You'll get a real buzz from seeing people you've helped to develop, succeed.
* Imagine what it will be like when your colleagues and your boss praise you for the very high quality results you consistently produce.
* Good managers are in short supply, so you'll have a greatly increased chance of promotion.
* You'll be able to do what gets you the best and most important outcomes and consequently get a reputation for being an achiever.
* Your team will operate at the same high level you do - they'll enjoy working for you and will give you the whole hearted support you need when a crisis occurs - result, a high you can't get from much else at work!
* If you start working with your team to develop their skills, you get a reputation as a great coach as well!

Can you imagine people are saying the following things about you?

"Really focused"
"Very organized"
"Always delivers on time"
"Involves the team in getting the results"
"Fantastic at keeping everyone in the picture"
"Seems to be able to get on with everyone, no matter who they are."
"Writes the only reports a person can understand"
"Doesn't waffle on in meetings - gets to the point"
"Knows what they're talking about, very knowledgeable"
"Very persuasive presenter"
"Doesn't mess about - when you want a decision, you get one!"
"Values everyone in the team and means it"
"I wish my team is as good as that"

What would this do for your career? Managers with this type of feedback don't stay in a low position for very long, they are the material of the future - part of the team that leads the company to success.

This is not an impossible dream - but it's not a magic spell either!

The first step in the process is to read one or two chapters of the Managing Yourself manual and put the techniques into action. The manual comes in 13 easy-to-digest chunks. However, a word of advice - don't pick the things you're already good at and get even better - that's just too easy! Pick on something that you find a challenge and then try out the techniques at work. You'll soon start to see a difference.

* Your efficiency will improve - you'll do things quicker and in a more organized fashion.
* Your effectiveness will improve - you'll get better quality results from less effort.
* Your team will improve - if you operate at a higher level, they'll see the benefits of upgrading their skills (and, of course, you'll have the information to provide them with to help them).
* Your department will deliver - higher quality, faster, more - and your customers will love you - whether they are internal customers (your colleagues that you support) or external customers (that pay your salary).


Determining what makes effective "leadership"

In comparing various leadership styles in many cultures, academic studies have examined the patterns in which leadership emerges and then fades, sometimes by natural succession according to established rules and sometimes by the imposition of brute force. Some scholars choose to judge the effectiveness of leadership by the size of the following that the "leader" can muster. By this standard, Hitler became a very effective leader even if his promises were delusional and even if his troops coerced the followers.

Other scholars maintain that an effective leader must unite followers to a shared vision that offers true value, integrity, and trust to transform and improve an organization and society at large. James MacGregor Burns calls this leadership that delivers true value, integrity, and trust transformational leadership that he distinguishes from mere transactional leadership that gets quality of leadership is more difficult to quantify than would be a mere count of the followers that transactional leadership sets as a primary standard for effectiveness. That is, transformational leadership requires an evaluation of quality independent of the market demand that exhibits in the number of followers.

Leadership as a position of authority, comparison with other apes

Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson, in Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence present the empirical evidence that only humans and chimpanzees, among all the animals living on earth, share a similar tendency for violence, territoriality, and competition for uniting behind the one chief male of the land. And the chimpanzees are man's closest species-relative; humans inherited 98% of their genes from the ancestors of the chimpanzees.

In comparison, the bonobos, the second-closest species-relative of man, do not unite behind the chief male of the land. The bonobos show deference to an alpha or top-ranking female that, with the support of her coalition of other females, is as strong as the strongest male in the land. That is, if leadership amounts to getting the greatest number of followers, then among the bonobos, a female almost always exerts the strongest and most effective leadership.

Some have argued that, since the bonobo pattern inverts the dominant pattern among chimpanzees and men with regard to whether a female can get more followers than a male, humans and chimpanzees both likely inherited gender bias against women from the ancestors of the chimpanzees; gender bias is a genetic condition of men. And the bias against women having leadership as a position of authority crosses all world cultures. As of 2002, Sweden had the highest percentage of women in the legislature at 43%. And the United States, Andorra, Israel, Sierra Leone, and Ireland tied for 57th place with less than 15% of the legislature women. Admittedly, those percentages are significantly higher than the occurrence of female chimpanzees becoming alpha of the community by getting the most followers, but the trends are similar in manifesting a general gender bias across cultures against females getting leadership as a position of authority over followers.

Do certain qualities a "leader" make?

Studies of leaders have suggested qualities that are often associated with leadership. They include:

* Talent and technical/specific skill at the task at hand.
* Initiative and entrepreneurial drive
* Charismatic inspiration - being liked by others and the ability to leverage this esteem to motivate others
* Preoccupation with their role - a dedication that consumes much of their life - service to a cause.
* A clear sense of mission - clear goals - focus - commitment
* Results oriented - every action is directed towards a mission - prioritize activities so that time is spent where results will be best achieved
* Optimism - very few pessimists are leaders
* Rejection of determinism - belief in their ability to make a difference
* Ability to encourage and nurture those that report to them - delegate in such a way as people will grow
* Role models - take on a persona that encapsulizes the mission - lead by example

The skills and practices of "leadership" may compare with management in the broadest sense of that word. In this connection one can view leadership as

* centralized or decentralized
* broad or focused
* decision-oriented or morale-centered
* intrinsic or derived from some authority.

Leadership Metaphors

An effective leader resembles an orchestra/condoctor in some ways. He/she has to somehow get a group of potentially diverse and talented people -- many of whom have strong personalities -- to work together toward a common output. Will the conductor harness and blend all the gifts his or her players possess? Will the players be happy with the degree of creative expression they have? Will the audience be pleased by the sound they make? The conductor may have a determining influence on all of that.

Leadership by a group

In contrast to tolerating leadership as a position of authority, some highly successful organizations have adopted a pragmatic approach when they found that the role of boss costs too much in team performance. That is, in some situations, the maintenance of the boss is too expensive by either draining the resources of the group as a whole or impeding the creativity within the team, even unintentionally.

For example, the Orpheus orchestra, which has performed for over thirty years without a conductor--that is, without a boss--for a team of over 25 members, has drawn discriminating audiences, and has produced over 60 recordings for Deutsche Grammophon in successful competition with the other world-class orchestras with the autocratic or charismatic conductors.

Rather than an autocratic or charismatic conductor deciding the overall conception of a work and then dictating how each individual is to perform the individual tasks, the Orpheus team generally selects a different "core group" for each piece of music; the core group as a team work out the details of the piece; the core group present their idea to the whole team; each member of the whole team then participates in refining the final conception, rehearsal, and product, including checking from various places in the auditorium how the sound balances and verifying the quality of the final recording -- all without a boss.

At times the whole team may follow someone, but whom the team follows rotates from task to task among the members that the team finds capable. The Orpheus team even has developed seminars and training sessions for adapting the Orpheus Process to business.

Other varieties of leadership

The word "leadership" can mean a collective group of leaders, or it can mean the special if not mystical characteristics of a celebrity (compare hero). Yet other usages have a leadership which does not lead, but to which one simply shows respect (compare the courtesy title reverend). Aside from the prestige-role sometimes granted to inspirational leaders, a more mundane usage of the word "leadership" can designate "current front-runners": someone can for a time take over the lead in a race, for example; or a corporation or a product can hold a position of market leadership.

In would-be controlling groups such as political parties, ruling elites, and other belief-based enterprises like religions or business, the idea of leadership can become a Holy Grail and people can come to expect transformational change stemming from the leader; such entities encourage their followers and believers to worship leadership, to respect it, and to strive to become proficient in it. Followers in such a situation may become uncritically Führer. Alternatives to the cult of leadership include co-operative ventures, collegiality, consensus, anarchism and democracy.

Aristocratic thinkers have postulated that leadership depends on one's blue blood or genes. Contrariwise, more democratically-inclined theorists have pointed to examples of meritocratic leaders, such as the Napoleonic marshals profiting from careers open to talent. In similar fashion, traditionalists recall the role of leadership of the Roman pater familias; against which feminist thinking posits emotionally attuned responsive and consensual empathetic guidance.

Many organizations aim to identify, foster and promote leadership potential or ability.

For a more general take on leadership in politics, compare the concept of the statesman.

Partho Pratim Chowdhury
Lecturer, HR & Training and Development
NSHM Academy

Source: E-mail September 23, 2005


Back to Articles 1-99 / 100 onwards / Faculty Column Main Page


Important Note :
Site Best Viewed in Internet
Explorer in 1024x768 pixels
Browser text size: Medium