Week 1 Reflections

 

Gosling, J., & Mintzberg, H. (2003). The Five Minds of a Manager. Harvard Business Review, 81(11), 54-63.

Kohl, David J. (2010). Is Steve Jobs a Role Model for Librarians?. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36(3), 191

What does it mean to think like a manager? I’m still puzzling this through and hope this course will help. When I think back and reflect on past occupations, I can see glimmers of management psyches but they’re disparate to my eye.

In the past has the emphasis been on leadership while management has faded into the background.

Who aspires to be a good manager when the individual dreams of leadership?

It is this disconnect from management of leadership which has the audacity for centuries past to separate, detach and oppress rather than involve the stakeholders. So I’m following Mintzberg’s lead and going back to the question of management. A manager is required to be global, local, collaborate, compete, change and maintain order – what a tall order! To be a manager is to juxtapose consistently wearing different caps on one head. Mintzberg argues for synthesis not separation as key to being a good manager. To Mintzberg’s eye, there are five caps a manager must cloth in order to practice good management skills:

  • Managing self: the reflective mind set
  • Managing organisations: the analytic mind set
  • Managing context: the worldly mind set
  • Managing relationships: the collaborative mind set
  • Managing change: the action mind set

Managing self, the reflective mind  set, which is what I hope to acquire through this blog. We’ve all got a wealth of life lessons shrouded on us but Saul Alinsky argues that happenings become experiences when they are digested, when they are reflected upon. It is only through opening the mind’s eye for a space between a manager’s experience and their explanations that surge us on to development. In the past there were ‘mirror people’ versus ‘window people’ but the most productive challenge is to engage both personal and professional insights in order to realise success. Reflect in Latin means to refold. To refold, reflect, and refract experiences is a skill base ‘to see behind in order to look ahead’. ‘You must appreciate the past if you wish to use the present to get to a better future’.

Managing organisations, the analytic mind set is sometimes seen as the typical skill of a manager. We learn that in Greek, analysis means to ‘let loose’. A manager must be able to break up the phenomena of an organisation into components by ‘decomposing them’. But what does decomposition really mean for a successful manager? Decomposition seems to entail finding out what is driving the organisation’s efforts, their motivation. It means to provide a measure for performance. And finally and probably the one that most people would jump to the conclusion, an organisation structure is analytic as a means of decomposition creating the division of labour. It is this order and decomposition that juxtapose and is at the heart of every organisation. What we need from managers is to be reflective analytical managers. Those who have analysed the analysis of others and can see where they are coming from and aren’t afraid to examine their own bias or prejudice in their thinking. In a way, a manager has to see things from the ground up while keeping a perspective of the entire organisation at work. I don’t know if this is quite the right metaphor but seeing the cogs but remembering the entire machine seems a way to decompose and compose in a managerial mind set.

Managing context: the worldly mind set is essentially for the manager not to fall foul of thinking globally but worldly. For a manager to take into account people’s circumstances, habits and cultures. Using TS Elliot’s famous words; should we not explore ceaselessly in order to return home and know the place for the first time? A manager must gather eclectic experiences in order to reflect on their organisation which means to see the production, the customers and the environments which make the organisation whole. To this mind set, a manager must always be receptive to learning  and exploring how interdependent, similar and different worlds can be while reflecting outside just the manager’s own context.

Managing relationships: the collaborative mind set means  getting involved with all stakeholders, managing throughout. It is at the essence of every organisation, it is relationship building. Managing is an interacting network. From the network evolve strategies as the stakeholders are engaged solving little problems that develop into big initiatives. A manager commits with the rest of the stakeholders to change, it is not one versus the other. A manager is inspiring and engaged, based on reflective judgement that is grounded with context. A manager recognises stakeholders’ values as not just monetary.  Managers reflect that leadership is a trust that is earned through mutual respect from stakeholders.

Managing change: the action mind set is a challenging hat to don for any manager, the key seems to be that change can be managed if continuity is managed as well. Otherwise anarchy! Changing is a learning process so unless you have everyone on board, chaos may ensue. A manager’s great strength may be learning and recognising to take into account change without losing the steering wheel.

Is Steve Jobs a role model for librarians? As a leader and manager, he sought opportunity-driven possibilities. As librarians, we too have seen opportunities and possibilities like RFID, the importance as we learn to manage is to involve our clients and other stakeholders in a collective decision. Managing must wear many caps but always strive for inclusion and the reflective process.

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