September 21, 2018

The Briefest of Management Philosophies

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 over 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. Do a Google Images search on “management philosophies,” if you don’t believe me.

There are words upon words upon words regarding management philosophies.

However, my management philosophy can be summed up in 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

Connecting “Life is Too Short” to Management Philosophies

You may be saying that this is all very nice and sweet, but what does it have to do with business situations? Well, 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.

Let’s compare a collaborative approach with other stakeholders versus a “win at all costs” approach. Speaking of football coaches, once one stated, “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.

“Life is too short” is a simple management philosophy, but it is an effective one. It helps provide clarity to difficult situations and it does make dealing with others and life 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 others. 

But, as the years pass one after another, perhaps we would all do well to think about how we want to spend those years and how we would like to live them, because after all, life is too short. 

This blog was adapted from John Lane’s article originally published in the February 2014 Turnaround Management Association - Cleveland Chapter newsletter.

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