Saturday, March 29, 2008

The King Warrior

Who is your best warrior? What a silly question, of course our best warrior is our king!!

It used to be like this. This would’ve been the answer you would have got a long time ago, the days that the expert in the domain was the leader. Warriors were the highly valued social groups and the best among them would be the king and this king would train hard in fight and always be the first in front in the battle field. Are kings still like that? Everyone knows the answer, but the idea can still be found in different areas.

The idea still exists although the modern lifestyle is trying to extinguish it.

Who is the leader in an engineering firm? Is the best engineer the leader? Is the leader a very well known manager with a business major maybe? Well actually we find both these days, but which one should it really be?

I used to be a firm believer that the leader should know management and that management can be an abstract skill, and a manager does not need to know anything about the technical domain, if you can manage a hospital, then you can manage an engineering firm or even a school. Well for ideal management, this is true and management is really the art of finding the balance and deciding about the best ways to achieve goals where the unknown parameters to balance are usually related to resources, time and money. When you only have to deal with these parameters and everything else is just like a black box for you, then you don’t really have to worry about the technical domain such as engineering.

While this is still what I believe about management, I see a problem when the manager becomes the leader. Managers being leaders are what everyone seems to accept and how modern day is forming. Now who is the leader? A leader is a person who has the abilities to make a team achieve a specific goal. This is probably the simplest definition but the important part here is the goal and knowing whether we are moving towards this goal. The goal is almost always related to the technical domain and specifying it in the first place and making sure we are approaching it are things that are specifically related to the domain and can not be abstract managerial actions. For example, a car manufacturer needs a leader to set some goals then lead as the manufacturer tries to reach the goals. Ferrari had a goal, the goal was completely technical and there were probably not many people alive who could check and see whether his team was reaching that goal. Would he have been able to do that if he had studied business and was a well known manager? Of course not, but would he need a manager and benefit from the management techniques? Of course yes. And who would be the leader? Ferrari himself.

Wikipedia on Leadership and Management.

Apple Company is Apple Company because they had a leader called Steve Jobs who was really a warrior king. Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Ferdinand Porsche, Honda, George Lucas and Larry Elliot have all been warrior kings and what they have done can never be achieved by any MBA graduate or Management PhD.

Managers can lead teams to do ordinary things, by following predefined processes and methodologies and following strict specifications. Like what GM company does, but if you want your product or services to really stand out, then find a leader who understands the taste in the domain, can judge about quality and has passion, let this person lead and let the managers manage and worry about money, resources and time. Balancing money, resource and time by itself will never make a quality product.

This idea seems very simple but is simply forgotten a lot of times.

Let’s select our kings from the best warriors one more time.

1 comment:

Tournesol said...

Oh well,

I wonder who am I in this chaos.

I don't need to wonder. I am who I am and you know that very well.