your letter today commenting
on Boy Scout training that instills discipline to
responding to my letter on using technology to prepare for meetings.
Your suggestion to rely on
personal discipline aligns with Intel's Chairman, Andy Grove, who
writes in his book Only the Paranoid Survive, that managers need
diligence to write copious notes that avoid the inherent ambiguity of mental
maps. Mr. Grove cites founder, and former chairman,
Gordon Moore, saying that Intel managers must be prepared to change, or
else be replaced. Under this criteria,
is critical. Merely
calling for discipline, however, is not enough. Forward thinking
leaders strive to provide technology, training and support that
leverages strengths, so that management can succeed, despite personal
weaknesses of individuals who lack diligence.
Limited time, limited span of attention, and limited knowledge due to lack of
training and experience, also, called "ignorance," all impact the process of
to work effectively. Diligence is a human characteristic, which,
like time, occurs along a continuum from abundance, to nil, i.e., from highly
motivated, to indifference or apathy. Since human character can be helped to
some extent by
proactive leadership, scouting, athletics and other training environments
help instill effective personal work habits.
Since, people differ in personal genetic
strengths and weaknesses, there are
necessarily different levels of success in molding good character.
One way of motivating young and old alike is to provide technology that makes
it easier to perform important tasks, like being prepared for meetings.
Review of Grove's book supports the proposition that
leaders must do more than call for diligence. Leadership brings responsibility
for enabling people with training and technology to overcome problems in
performing their work. Being
prepared for meetings is a big part of performing management work.
Leadership, therefore, has
a duty to help managers be prepared by providing useful
technology and support. .. An example from scouting is preparing to
go on a hike. The
is a technology that makes it easier to store and
carry equipment and supplies for hiking. Without the knapsack a lot of kids
would exercise the diligence to assemble and carry things. But, since it is
harder to do, fewer would show up prepared, and some would avoid hiking because
it takes too much diligence.
.. Engineering, medical and legal practice have similar dynamics. We want our
engineer, doctor and lawyer to
when they show up for work on our
house, our heart, and our case. Discipline varies according to genetics,
the boy scouts, athletics, and other cultural forces that build strong
But, despite good character and good intentions, people don't have
a lot of time to prepare. Writing is a technology that helps executives and
professionals be prepared. Some managers, for example, write up an agenda to
discuss at meetings and phone calls. Doctors review medical history and write
up work plans for operations. Lawyers analyse arguments, history and
authority they plan to present at trial. This writing is submitted to opposing
counsel and to the judge so they can be prepared on specific points that compel
Pen and paper are early technologies
that expedite writing, so that it takes less diligence to be prepared than in
the days of the pharaoh, Ramses II, who recognized that writing is a predicate
So let it be written, so let it be done!
.. In the early days, it took a lot of diligence to prepare a stone tablet and
fashion tools; then, use the tablet and tools to chisel a written record.
disciplined made poor scribes, and were likely weeded out by pharaoh's
executive evaluation program (PEEP). Thankfully, today, it takes less
discipline to be prepared, so we don't hear much about PEEP anymore.
Typewriters, wordprocessing and email are technologies that further enhance
being prepared by providing legible information and pictures. Secretaries,
para legals and co-counsel are staffing technologies for organizing the work to
ensure counsel is prepared, regardless of personal diligence.
Thus, technology widens the range of people who can be adequately prepared to
go hiking, build a computer or a bridge, perform a heart transplant, or present
a case at law, despite limited time and diligence. People with more discipline
benefit more, but everyone benefits when a wider range of people are prepared
for work by virtue of technology.
Web mail extends the role of technology to save time by directing
attention to specific
for performing the work. Advantages of
were recently set out on August 4.
Connectionist theory in cognitive science sums up the
advantage of Communication Metrics to deliver
intelligence rather than sending mere information.
My letter on
August 13 provided an
that linked prospective attendees of a pending
meeting to pertinent
medical history in 1988, and, also, to
a range of research sources for
evaluating needed action.
This process positions the professional to invest available time efficiently by
preserving alignment of objectives, history and authority, which otherwise is a
fleeting blur in the daily grind of information overload. Second, Web mail
provides a direct path to return for further research when more time is
available. Third, corrections do not burden the record with complexity that
causes mistakes. By helping people organize, align, and retrieve information
efficiently, we greatly increase the chances of a productive meeting. Links
alert people to a much broader range of factors that impact results, and so
further increase the chances of favorable results. Medical patients are highly
motivated to help the doctor
to get favorable results. While the
same scale of motivation may not be attainable in less critical work, those who
track the bottom line, may be moved to try intelligence to improve
Another advantage of preparing for an effective meeting is that work product
helps write up the record of what is actually accomplished. Capturing the
record, in turn, provides critical intellectual captial to prepare for the next
task, and thereby helps solve the precise problem that brings down CEOs,
reported recently by
magazine. Properly configured,
technology strengthens this powerful management cycle of
plan, perform, report, explained in POIMS. Recall that
Deming calls it plan, do, study, act. Advocates of the
Learning Organization at MIT's Sloan School of Management describe a process of
called out, as well,
by ISO and PMBOK standards. Cognitive
science calls the process of converting information into knowledge...
It all boils down to following the Boy Scout credo of
, every day, all day
Of course, it takes a lot of
discipline to do this consistently. People generally are not good at
repetitive tasks. Limited span of attention causes performance to lapse for
even the most rigidily disciplined. Those with imagination drift
off course much sooner. SDS technology, however, gives discipline a boost
by helping everyone be prepared to
stay on course, as illustrated by your
bow and arrow
diagram, discussed a few weeks ago.
Intel technology can be
a powerful force for this core competency of civilization, if properly applied
to support Communication Metrics.