GUEST AUTHOR BLOG by Terri Griffith author of “The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive.”
Times are tight and organizations and countries are practicing austerity. We need to do more with what we have and make the most of any acquisitions.
We need to lead through all our resources.
Leadership is a complex skill requiring that we energize human, technical, and organizational resources. But do we always energize across all three of these dimensions? It's unlikely that any of us are expert across all three dimensions: people, technology tools, and organizational process — yet our organization's success depends on all three and this is true whether you are in a high-tech start-up, a stable engineering firm, hospital, or school district.
Are you using 1, 2, or 3 of your leadership resources?
People generally gravitate to using the tools they are most comfortable with. This is the “if you have a hammer then everything looks like a nail” problem. We have to do better. We either have to coach ourselves to look across all three dimensions, or we need to bring in people whose tool set compliments our own.
Power comes from using all three of people, technology, and organization process to build solutions.
For example, David Gundlach, Deputy Superintendent of the Oshkosh, WI School District is a teacher turned technology leader who understands the power of technology when combined with communication, solid training, and sustainable process and funding. David led a transformation that has taken the school district to the top in terms of clean integration of technology and practices. David told me:
"The people are the tough part. The technology is the easy part. [You need to look ] through a systems lens and knowing that the implications may impact four or five others. You need to know the interrelationships between the four or five."
Are you putting your resources into conflict?
Sometimes we work with all three dimensions, but they aren’t aligned. Nucor (globally renowned steel and recycling company) is an example that helps me remember both that not all technology is inside a computer (Nucor, for example, uses electric arc furnaces to create batches of up to 170 tons of molten steel) and the importance of aligning how we work with people, technology, and organizational process to build an organization.
"Leadership is a complex skill requiring that we energize human, technical, and organizational resources. But do we always energize across all three of these dimensions?""
Nucor thinks about hiring, training, organizing, and pay all in the context of the dangerous world they work in, the background of their employees, and their need to innovate to stay competitive. Basic training is given in class, but the real learning takes place with the full team on the shop floor where all the complexities of the work are engaged. Dan Krug, director of human resources at Nucor says, “Until they see it and watch it happen, it’s hard to participate in the culture.”
Use all your leadership resources and be sure they are supporting each other rather than working at cross purposes. Nucor needs teams to work in a complex system of heavy manufacturing. Hiring, culture, pay, all of their organizational actions are pointed to enabling those teams to safely provide value to their customers while making the best use of product and leadership resources.
Squeezing the most out of the resources we have available is the main them in my new book, “The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive.” I’m honored to be able to tell the stories of the many plugged-in managers I’ve met and then use their stories to provide a clear set of action steps to help you, your team, and your organization create powerful dynamics and solutions.
Terri Griffith is a professor of management at Santa Clara University and author of The Plugged-In Manager. From her location in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Terri's research, speaking, and advising helps executives build, manage, and improve their organizations. For more information, please visit TerriGriffith.com.