February 12, 2014

The Briefest of Management Philosophies By John K. Lane Managing Director/CEO, Inglewood Associates LLC

Management philosophies abound.

There are books on management philosophies, books on how to write your own management philosophy and, I am sure, books that analyze other books on management philosophies. There is the Marriott Management Philosophy, Deming's 14 Principles, Panasonic's Founder's 7 Core Principles, and the former Kyocera Chairman's Twelve Management Principles, along with his more than 400 management keywords, just to name a few.

There are blogs, repeated references to football coaches and generals, charts, arrows, pyramids, lists, circle thingies and so on. The colors used in these graphical presentations are all very impressive. If you don't believe me, just do a Google image search on the phrase "management philosophy."

In other words, there are words upon words upon words regarding management philosophies.

However, my management philosophy can be summed up in just four monosyllabic words: life is too short. It is really a simple philosophy that can be applied to virtually all of your life and work situations. For example, life is too short

  • To worry about things that you cannot change or minutia that just does not matter
  • To analyze options without first compiling the facts
  • To hold grudges against people who are really not worth your time
  • To be judgmental (that is, unless you have achieved perfection)
  • To not do something about it when you are in a bad situation
  • To not seek help or input when needed
  • To not always try to do the "right" thing or to not always tell the truth

And, perhaps most importantly, to not enjoy a summer's breeze or to not say "I love you" to your significant other every day.

You may be thinking, this is all very nice and sweet, but it really does not have anything to do with turnaround situations. However, when the you know what hits the fan, do you want anyone helping the fan throw the stuff back on you? And, when things are not looking good, being depressed about the situation really does not help.

Does any of this suggest that one could actually enjoy a crisis situation? No, but why make a bad situation worse?

Let's compare a collaborative approach with other stakeholders versus a "win at all costs" approach. Speaking of football coaches, one of them once said "winning isn't everything: it's the only thing." Yes, winning feels good. But if it is the only thing that you pursue, when you get old and do not have the big title anymore, not too many folks will want to grab a beer with you. Or, perhaps even before you get old, you might not be able to find anyone to help you when times get tough.

So while life is too short may be a simple management philosophy, it is an effective one. It provides clarity in difficult situations and does make life and dealing with others more enjoyable.

Obviously, my management philosophy is not new. There are a lot of great quotes that echo this point: life is not a dress rehearsal, you pass this way but once, and many others. But as we commence yet another year, perhaps we would all do well to think about how we want to spend this year and how we would like to live it.

Because after all, life is just too short.


Reprinted with permission from the Ohio Chapter of The Turnaround Management Association's January/February 2014 newsletter, Turnaround Times.