A coworker sent out a link to the Wayback Machine the other day. Well, I was playing around and came across a link to a previous incarnation of this blog. And I was struck by something I wrote back then about a title I made up, and it made me start questioning what my next title is going to be. Because I'd like it to be something half as interesting and challenging as the one I came up with below.
My New Title... No, I don't really have a new title. But, along the lines of Tom Peters' suggestion that we should change our titles to something more fitting, I have an idea of what it should be: "Vice President of Cool Research, Team Conflict Promotion, and Unconscious Intervention for Developing Bad-Assed Talent" VP - CR,TCP, UIfDBAT. Makes a nice business card. If not a nice pronouncable acronym. Looks like a list of protocols on an old mainframe. Seriously, though - I've been thinking a lot about the new requirements of what it takes to manage these days. The days of strict command are over - to quote a military general talked about in Blink, "we are in command and out of control." That's my life - though I may be in command, I simply don't have time to control anything. I influence, I touch, I dance, and I try to keep things going the right way. But I'm never in control. And if I tried to be, it would all slip through my fingers. It's why I think that the hypnotherapist certification was so important - as I see it, rapid change at the level of unconscious cognition is about the only chance that someone in a leadership role will have in the next 20 years. Things continue to accelerate - today, my team is running at 450% more productivity than we did a year ago. We're doing more work in a month than we did in 2003. And we're going to do more work in the next three months than in all of 2004. Long, drawn out HR processes aren't the way to interact and intervene in that environment - it just moves too quickly. It reminds me of the strategy we had playing basketball in school: "quick touches". You get the ball, you immediately pass it off. Holding the ball is a major no-no - it slows the tempo of the team down. So, what's that look like? I'm not sure. But I know what my interventions look like of late - A quick meeting with the team that is feeling passive-agressive to provoke them into constructive conflict. A quick meeting with the group that isn't working together to spark collaboration. A subtle reminder (spoken in quotes, no less) to a couple of people over lunch about a key piece of behavior that will connect the members of the team. Never more than 5 minutes of content from my end - big effects on behavior. And, while some of the effect comes from the conscious content, most of it is being processed and handled at the unconscious level. It's about making your team most effective by spending as much time leaving them alone as possible. And only intervening when absolutely required to get them back into a peak performance state. I'm certainly not great at it - I held a quick intervention of this sort recently which only went about 1/2 as well as I'd have hoped - it certainly wasn't a clean result. But, my own personal deficiencies aside, I'm genuinely beginning to believe that this is the next step in Tom Peters' "white-collar revolution" - as everyone continues to increase in speed and efficiency, interventions will have to be streamlined. I can imagine a day when most management is required to occur at the level of "priming" that Gladwell talks about - where progress happens so quickly that the only way to truly influence it is to be at the unconscious edge of the cognitive process. On that day, managers would be required to understand the implications of tools like FACS and hypnosis - it becomes a race to see who understands what's behind the locked door of the unconscious first. Somehow, this all seems a little too fast, but, then, so does Moore's Law when you think about it.
If you could define a title that described exactly what you do that is cool on a daily basis, what would it be?