Monday, July 10, 2006

Of Ladders and Trenches

It's difficult, when you are in a management position, to maintain a balance between keeping a perspective on the big picture and staying in touch with what is going on in the trenches. I find that, while I need to maintain some contact with the trenches to retain perspective on what it's all about, I cannot get involved in routine trenchwork for two reasons:

1. At some point, it becomes too difficult mentally to have to integrate both details that are significant in the trench but not in the big picture , and details that are significant in the big picture but not in the trench. A friend of mine calls this "spanning too many rungs of the ladder." Obviously, when it becomes too much depends on the size of the ladder, the distance between rungs, and how stretchy you are at any given time.

2. I can't be both peer to and supervisor of my co-workers. While I (think I) can track my role-switches, it's almost impossible for others to do so, which, rightly makes them confused and uncomfortable. This is one of those management aphorisms on whcih all the management trainings agree but that everyone really has to learn for themselves. You have to be equal but separate.

So I think my strategy needs to be the Periodic Royal Pulse Check: hear about/talk to a few example trenches without actually getting involved directly.


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