Your Business Professor was advising a CEO after a train wreck caused by his team.
It was a case study on how to derail a project on each of the four parts of management. Usually crashing one part of management is enough. I marveled at the thoroughness of the wreckage.
“What happened?” I asked. You can count on complicated questions from consultants who have no clue.
“Time,” said the CEO, his head down. “I wish that I took 10 minutes — just 10 minutes to think about it and — if I just took some time to give the problem some real thought — then I could have provided some direction …”
The boss was taking all the blame. As he should.
It started with an incomplete arrangement (plan), using the wrong people (organize) who were distracted with other responsibilities (lead). There were no milestones, no deadlines and no managerial oversight (control).
He is not alone.
The U.S. armed services has codified this ultimate responsibility in the Army Command Policy manual. “Commanders are responsible for everything their command does or fails to do,” according to Army Regulation AR 600-20 (PDF) on page 6.
I looked around the CEO’s immense corner office. Walls of glass on two sides. “You know,” I said, “you spent a lot of money on these floor-to-ceiling windows.”
The CEO gives me a tired look. I get that a lot.
“Maybe,” I said, “You should work less and take more time looking out into infinity …”