Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Pearl Theory of Management

The Pearl Theory of Management:  it takes an irritant to make a pearl.


The act of managing people generally involves motivating them to do things they would not do if left in their "free state".  Motivation is usually accomplished by internalizing within those people a set of rewards and irritants.

Supervisors generally do not have enough authority to create stand-alone reward systems.  Therefore, most of their tools come out of the irritant tool box.

Progress.  Not perfection.  -Robert McCall, The Equalizer


One technique for internalizing an irritant is to use a visual system that goes "red" when attention is required.  "Going red" required a documented response: Action taken, results generated.

An example follows


A large organization decided that all performance metrics could be classified within the following categories.

  • Safety
  • Time Urgency
  • People
  • Improve cost by reducing waste
  • Decrease damage to the environment.

During steady-state business, goals were set so that, on average, only one category would trigger "red" on any given day. Obviously, goals would be more aggressive in times of crisis.

Sometimes the goals were set so any give category was as likely to trip as any other category.

Sometimes goals were biased to divert more resources to more fully support an organizational goal.

It is OK to be S.T.U.P.I.D in a large organization as long as you are getting better and have the documentation to prove it!

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