Introduction to Management Tools & Techniques

Don’t take the fun out of the work. We’re engaged in a creative pursuit and we need to be creative in how we manage this pursuit.

You get and keep great people by keeping the work challenging and always open to surprises. Don’t select management tools and techniques that turn work into a deadening routine. We seek innovative approaches to drive innovative research and products.

This is ‘man the lawmaker’. We build rules of conduct to allow us to better gauge the actions of our fellow workers. What should we expect to be standing behind a claim of evidence? What should we expect to be standing behind decisions? It will be our management tools and techniques standing behind the confidence we place in the actions of our coworkers. There is no need for a formal contract standing behind each research transaction. We do not ‘buy insurance’ to protect against unilateral breaches in the transaction.

We seek tools and techniques that foster effectiveness. Effectiveness is a rare bird. We want free assent to the use of our management tools, willing adherence to the rules of the community. Effectiveness only comes when individuals can see how selected management tools and techniques contribute to the common goals. Force feeding, aka Change Management, detracts from effectiveness, as individuals spend energy circumventing or subverting the new unwanted intrusion. We tap into the inner desire of individuals to conform if that's what they believe it takes to reach the common goals of the community.

We have a toolbox. We reach into the toolbox and grab the tool best suited for the task at-hand. There is no master plan to line up all the tasks with all the tools. They’re just tools and we use them as deemed appropriate for the task. Mostly we grab the same tool for the same task. It’s what coworkers expect. But every once in a while a wrench is just as useful to pound down a rough edge when the hammer isn't handy. We balance the need to meet coworker expectations with the need to just get the job done. Our goal is not to get known as being the best at using any particular management tool (e.g., 6-Sigma+ gurus). We use management tools and techniques because they help us achieve our research and commercial goals, not because we happen to have them in our toolbox (e.g., “He has a hammer and the whole world looks like nails”).

We protect our tools and techniques. We want them to be there the next time we need them. Self-centered individuals are infinitely creative at gaming tools when it serves their purpose. For example, corruption of a decision from Trial by Jury+ taints decisions for all trials to come. Individuals justify their corruption in terms of efficiency, speed, cost, quality or any of a dozen other tools of the tyrant. Their short-term personal gain is paid back manifold in the organizational inefficiencies, loss of time, increased cost, and reduced quality in all tool usage to come.

We acknowledge mechanical rules are often necessary for Stage One researchers+; those not yet ready for a freestyle+ approach to work. These individuals often embrace tools & techniques as a means to move forward with as little additional mental effort as possible. I mechanize my activities because I need to devote most of my thinking to the research task at hand. We build experience levels into our tools to allow researchers to gradually overcome this mentality.1 Management tools and techniques are designed to grow researchers from mechanical Stage One thinkers into freestyle Stage Two thinkers.

This month we document the search, selection, implementation and use of management tools & techniques in a World Class R&D organization. We go in-depth for the management tool called Trial by Jury. We could have provided case studies for several other tools and techniques. However, You Know You’ve Arrived shows our intent is to get you to view the selection of management tools & techniques as integral to the remit of managers and leaders in R&D.

Home Page January 2011

  • 1. See HERE for an illustration.