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Cleaning Up management

by | Dec 28, 2021 | Cleaning Up, manage, U2

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🖋 I didn’t even bring blank paper with me. Thinking about leaving behind the only reality I had known as a working manager for nearly 40 years, I knew I needed to get some clarity. Offsites were by now second nature, mostly done poorly, and frankly one of the things I found myself Cleaning Up for other teams. And here I was sitting in our recently purchased Mountain House, a little dizzy from the altitude, and more from what the heck was I thinking?

The trajectory was clear enough – out. But after that – what would the course be? What flight plan would help me go … there, wherever there was? I had a subtle sense of what it might look like, and luckily, confidence in knowing that for me, the best thing to do was to… start. Just manage to get something down about what those 40 years had taught me. Enough that I could then Clean Up that momentum to focus in the right direction. It is an odd physics principle that even going in the WRONG way is better than being at rest. Try it sometime – if you want to go “right”, a subtle turn to the “left” first will help you go quicker and faster to the “right”…

🎵 Achtung Baby was such a breakthrough for the band that it is hard to even remember them before it. Huge multi-million dollar stage shows around the globe, and hit after hit had become expected. And here they were again with Change staring them in the face. Bono “… wanted to check where I was to where I am. So I went back and listened to all the music that made me want to be in a band, right from the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Echo & The Bunnymen, all that stuff. And what was interesting is, that was what a lot of people in bands now are listening to anyway. So in a funny way, it made us completely contemporary.”

They worked for 9 months on this album – much longer than others, but The Edge and Bono thought it was good enough to release. Larry and Adam didn’t, and the same friction they saw in Berlin resurfaced. They brought back their old producer Steve Lillywhite to “mediate” – which he described as “ “it had the weight of the world on its shoulders. It certainly wasn’t any fun.” They all eventually agreed the album was not good enough to “… bring you to tears or make you want to leave your house and tour for a year” and started reworking it. It took another year for them to finally get it out.

🖋 The house was empty other than some “staging” furniture that we had borrowed from a friend just to have something to sit on. There was a ginormous Dining Room table – which is where most of my best work is done normally, so I spread out… and spied a piece of construction-grade brown paper, used to protect the floors. It was dirty with the grime and grit of the building process ….and I didn’t Clean Up that “character”, I needed it. With a pencil (because all the best work needs revision) I started to sketch out first a grid, and then… what did I actually “know”. It fell into place pretty quickly, and then I started to manage those thoughts into something of an action plan.

We have been hearing a lot for 2 years about “hygiene”… what we can touch, how to breathe, where to stand, what to wear, etc. It is dizzying and you may be spinning from all the Change. And, it is still amazing to me that very few leaders have ever considered their “management” hygiene. What has worked for you over the years, and as U2 found out, what do you need to Change for each new Organization, Team, Group, or Market that you move into? I also realized that I had taken to heart an early lesson – moving between things forces Change. Staying in one “line” of a career has the danger of becoming complacent that “your” approach will work for every situation and person you work with.

As you head into the New Year, what about your own “management hygiene” needs focus? If you did the work from yesterday, you have a list of things that are working well (6, 12, 18..), and a few that are not (1, 2, 3). This is your own piece of “construction-grade paper”. Get it down and then start to see what organization would help it be even easier to manage. Clean Up your daily routines and your weeks will be easier. Clean Up your Weeks, and your Months get better, Quarters get stronger, mid-year Reviews become second nature. Management becomes Simple… AND, wait for it, EASY!!

This week – now – is the time to manage this work. Most are away from work, as are you also hopefully, and yet the great ones are always finding ways to Clean Up things to make them… simpler and easier. Ironically another great clue is the album title from today’s track – How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb…  One step at a time. A friend did research on Strategic Leadership Planning that I would also recommend.

As I stepped back from the completed plan, I wanted to compliment the facilitator (… me) for providing just enough structure to get a good enough approach. It would be enough to keep me managing for the next 13 years, and… what do you suppose I am doing this week? It may make your head spin a bit, but I am back at that piece of paper – well, now on my White Board 😉 And thinking with a little better altitude acclimation but still a little dizzy thinking about launching Mark 3.0. Next week. With … Vertigo.

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