Common Sense Management #1

I have read a lot of books on management and I have talked to a lot of business owners and managers. More and more I have become convinced that Management is 5% opportunity, 5% training, 25% ability and talent, and 65% common sense. Plenty of business books have been written about opportunity, training, and talent but I have rarely seen any written about Common Sense.

Too Smart?
I am reminded of a friend that I knew who was brilliant, educationally. Straight A’s through High School and most of College. This friend was headed for grad school to study Bio-Physics. I have lost touch with this person and wonder if they are still alive. Why? Because, for someone so smart this person lacked a major component for dealing with the relational aspects of life — common sense. I once saw them come home and set belongings down on the kitchen stovetop and then (do you know where this is going?) turn the stovetop on while going to get a pot. All the while the belongings were about to “flame on” until I quickly removed them. Hello? One does not set flammable objects on top of a hot stove unless one lacks sense.

OK, this is one scenario but, I have seen managers get bogged down in too much training. They establish business processes that increase disharmony instead of promoting harmony. They act as a micro-managing funnels that slowly grind projects and enthusiasm to a halt. Their companies and human resources are shackled because of their trying to apply little business tricks they have learned.

Following Trends
Another fallacy, I have observed, has been the adoption of any “new” management theory and idea that comes bursting out on the scene. Books are written, people speak and lecture on the topic and corporate leaders start applying the latest trend in business leadership because, I guess, things have not been working out quite they way it was expected. (See No Jackets Required)

Back to The Basics
Common sense says, “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Hire the way you want to be hired. Fire the way you want to be fired. Encourage the way you want to be encouraged. Don’t over spend. Don’t go into debt. Be steady and plan for the longterm–not hasty and spontaneous.”

How do you manage your home? Well, some of you may manage home like you do your department or company. And, what are the results? You know the answer.

Would You Want to Work For You?
Are you having fun managing? Fun is an indicator of success. If you are enjoying your work and the people you manage are exited about their work then carry on! If things are sour, then you have some soul-searching to do.

In the next installment, we’ll look at some common sense principles regarding work and business managment. You will probably see some things that are “no brainers” but, are you applying these as common sense would dictate or are you giving into the latest winds of management doctrine?

Food for thought until next time.

Related Link
Common Sense Management #2
You Might Be A Micromanager If…
Leadership Styles: Dictatorial, Authoritative, Consultative, Participative


14 thoughts on “Common Sense Management #1

  1. I totally agree with you on the smarts != common sense. I have an uncle quite similar to your friend. And if you accept the premise that some pretty witless people can acquire book learning, then is it not equally true that there are plenty of intelligent, common sensical people who have no formal training or degree at all?

    And yes, with that question I was opening up the door to say that I’m one of those people. I am horrible at dealing with any educational institution. I’ve gotta slog thru things on my own. I’m just too impatient to learn at other people’s pace or to have to curb my interest in another topic. What this has resulted in for my life is a very successful career as an interactive designer. I taught myself every programming language and graphics application I could get my hands on.

    Meanwhile, old friends of mine who have actually gone to school and gotten “Web Design” degrees constantly ask me how to work a specific program or figure out a problem, and the most common excuse for not knowing how to do it themselves is “they didn’t teach that.” The same went for most of the schooled designers I worked with. They just relied on the skills that they learned in college and were not constantly trying to learn in order to have their skillset keep pace with newer trends, even if just to be aware of them.

    This same trait has been exhibited in most of my more troublesome managers. They simply don’t know how to do something, are completely incurious as to the process and just heap all the knowledge and understanding on someone else to “help” them. All this does is frustrate whoever’s saddle with the mope, especially if the manager is the one who’s got to deal with the client, all the while talking about a project which he/she has NONE of the skills or understanding to produce themselves.

    This seems to gone off your main point on common sense, but I think my point was to say that while common sense is a big factor in a manager’s effectiveness, but so is intellectual laziness or a complete lack of ambition.

  2. Great post! Common sense, street smarts, call it what you will – it is the ability to apply yourself in business that makes the difference. Academic excellence is valid, but thinking that academic excellence equals immediate likelihood of success in consulting or running a business is a recipe for disaster.

    My blog called the Smell of Good Business is along similar business topic lines to yours – please take a look and I’d be interested in your feedback

    I particularly like putting the pics of business books on the right hand side that you have done here. Keep up the good work…

  3. i would like to know about commonsense management where and how to apply commonsense management sothat we can get success this iscoming the under idea of self management.
    i would to say i am persuing a MBA so i have need of this I am some time I am unable to take decision that how to tackle and solve it .quick and fast because my one friend did success only through commonsense management so that is why I am asking with you.

  4. Ben Earp (Enhanced Mgt. Training) says:

    Thanks for your insights.
    Common Sense Managing Rules! I have been in management for 35 years from manager trainee to regional manager and as soon as you learn that managing is all about them (your employees and your customers) and not all about you then the rest of your skill training is experienced based, hands-on, face to face on the front line. You can learn things in books, on-line, or in a classroom but without the blood, sweat and tears experience it is all for not. What makes a good manager is how they manage people, not processes.

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