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The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive
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Book Discussions > The Plugged-In Manager - August 2012

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Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments Its interesting how technology is no longer an added thought to the discussion of management and leadership. It has become an integral piece of the foundation. Looking forward to this read! Please share your thoughts about this book. Feel free to post questions for other members or for our featured author, Terri Griffith!


Terri Griffith | 18 comments I'm always looking for new plugged-in, and not so plugged-in examples. Recall that plugged-in doesn't necessarily mean more technology. We're looking for a solid mix.


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Don't you need a plugged-in culture to have a plugged-in manager?


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay wrote: "Don't you need a plugged-in culture to have a plugged-in manager?"

It helps to have a plugged-in culture, but it's not required. I love following Intuit because they seem to be plugged- in at all levels - but I can think of individuals who are plugged-in in spite of their organizations. Actually, I don't have to look very far - many universities (included my own) aren't especially plugged-in -- but I hope I am!

It's harder to be sure, but the sharing practice can help grow a plugged-in micro culture.

Thanks for the question. Reminded me that I have some comments around how I felt as I wrote the book. Talking with very plugged-in, hugely successful people in some very plugged-in organizations actually made me a bit jealous of their situation. I wrote those thoughts up as an epilogue but the editors suggested (correctly) it was better to end on a high note. I'll post it next week on my blog at terrigriffith.com


Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments Another thing to consider is how a manager can help create culture. An action plan of sorts to help an organization take baby steps. The book may cover that but I'm not too far in yet :)


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Jay Oza | 137 comments One of the thing that is mentioned on page 59 of the book is that "Plugged-in Management is a long term activity."

Isn't this difficult since companies are geared for short-term performance based on how people are measured, but also for companies since they are measured on meeting unrealistic investor expectations?

How do you overcome this? Through small wins as you mention earlier in the book?


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Jay Oza | 137 comments It appears that Apple and Steve Jobs did not do many of the things the book recommends regarding plugged-in management, so would you agree that Apple is not a good example of a plugged-in management?

If so, why are they so successful? Is it the challenge of working at Apple making innovative products more of a reason than working for a plugged-in culture, say like Google?


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Jay Oza | 137 comments The Nurse Judy example is excellent. It kind of reminds me of what Gary Hamel, noted management consultant, says that companies' success today depends on employees having passion, creativity and ability to to take initiative. This example exemplifies that.


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay wrote: "One of the thing that is mentioned on page 59 of the book is that "Plugged-in Management is a long term activity."

Isn't this difficult since companies are geared for short-term performance base..."


The light at the end of the tunnel is that the three practices of plugged-in management work at the individual, team, and organization levels (and I suspect across organizations). As individuals, we can improve our situation in the short term, often also true for a project. Even as organizations work to short term goals, they can benefit from the practices from goal cycle to goal cycle... If they are willing to occasionally stop, look, & listen.


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay wrote: "It appears that Apple and Steve Jobs did not do many of the things the book recommends regarding plugged-in management, so would you agree that Apple is not a good example of a plugged-in manageme..."

I don't have enough inside info about Apple to make a clear claim. Like many others, I'll list Apple as an exception that proves the rule.

Interesting question this raises: Can we name any other secrecy focused organizations that appear to be successful without sharing? 9-11 showed that even the secrecy focused agencies could have benefited from greater sharing. That said, you can never change just one thing so the sharing would need changes in tech and practices to not create still more problems.


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay wrote: "The Nurse Judy example is excellent. It kind of reminds me of what Gary Hamel, noted management consultant, says that companies' success today depends on employees having passion, creativity and ..."

It's a favorite story of mine too. As you may have seen by now, that hospital has multiple stories. Permission to innovate and assess (stop, look, & listen) with a good appreciation for all your resources (mixing), and then sharing the outcomes keeps the process going.


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri wrote: "Jay wrote: "It appears that Apple and Steve Jobs did not do many of the things the book recommends regarding plugged-in management, so would you agree that Apple is not a good example of a plugged..."

Is there such a thing as too much sharing to the point that it could hinder a company's ability to react quickly? I am sure you can argue from the other side where you could be making a rash decision without getting other inputs. What is the right balance?

I am sure I will get to this later in the book.


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri,

One of the hall mark of a plugged-in management is that of integration: people, process and technology. However, companies do tend to focus more on differentiation since it is easy to measure and gets the work done.

The book points out that integration (Plugged-in management) approach using stop-look-listen will be able to determine whether that work really needed to be done or not.

Though this makes lot of sense, but do companies have to move away from an emphasis on differentiation to integration? Can they both co-exist? What are you seeing in your research?


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay wrote: "Terri,

One of the hall mark of a plugged-in management is that of integration: people, process and technology. However, companies do tend to focus more on differentiation since it is easy to measu..."


Hi Jay, My work, and that of many colleagues, shows that trying to manage through just any one of the people, tech, or org dimensions will be less valuable that consideration of the three. The most famous footnote on the topic goes to Fred Brooks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Silve...
In a particular situation the focus may be on differentiation if one of the levers is much more effective than the rest, but supporting adjustments from the others is typically required.

Think about team-based work. We do much on the human side in terms of training for team skills, but many organizations could benefit from following Nucor's example of integrating team-based rewards when expecting superior team work.


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri,

Really enjoyed reading the Nucor examples you have in the book. Will have to get the book you reference to learn more about the Nucor culture with which I was not familiar.

Nucor succeeds when they have crisis is because the employees know the "why," and figure out the "how" and "what." Lot of companies don't have a clear mission so employees are not sure what to do.

Another point I want to make is the compensation aspect of plugged-in management. I don't think plugged-in management would succeed at Nucor unless they insituted "pay for team performance," so there is no opportunity for cowboy mindset setting in.

Finally, it seems from the Nucor example that plugged-in management, if done well, results in employees self-managing themselves. Not sure if you agree with this or not. Do you see this evolution in plugged-in management in your research?


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay, You've jumped to the punchline, and far faster than I did. My new project assumes more self-management in our jobs and careers. I hint at this in this blog post http://terrigriffith.com/blog/2020-en.... (Also, keep an eye out for today's post, you get credit for reminding me about the issues of working in less than plugged-in organizations -- thanks!)

I co-authored a paper on self-managing work teams long ago. I think we're finally in a situation where it can go mainstream for both teams and individuals. There are costs and benefits both. My research focus will be on learning to learn how to do this in organizational settings. Seem like a viable direction?


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri,

I finished your book. Took a while since I had to read it slowly. I learned a lot from this book, especially the way you simplify a very difficult subject. Management is not easy to explain, especially innovation in management.

I find this book very helpful in enabling innovation. Lot of books focus on coming up with ideas, others focus on coming up with innovation, but your book looks at the three simple activities that enable innovation by looking at a situation or a problem across the three dimensions: people, process and technology.


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri,

In the book, you discuss brainstorming technique to come up with ideas. Are there other techniques that companies are using to generate ideas?

Can plugged-in management really work if managers don't feel safe and are reluctant to take risks? Can this start from the bottom-up or it has to be top-down to really work?


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay wrote: "Terri,

In the book, you discuss brainstorming technique to come up with ideas. Are there other techniques that companies are using to generate ideas?

Can plugged-in management really work if man..."


Hi Jay,

There's a section in Chp 3 that has a nice summary of some other techniques. NASA, IDEO, Starbucks and other are listed with how they reach out to customers and others for new ideas. Getting the idea, picking the ones to focus on, and implementing are all opportunities for applying plugged-in management.

As to whether you must have trust: As long as you trust yourself, you can at least use the ideas on a small scale. Later this week that will be the focus on my blog. Starting small to go big...


message 20: by Kara (last edited Aug 20, 2012 09:16AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kara (KaraAyako) Terri, I haven't read the book yet (I plan to start it as soon as I finish Anna Karenina which is quite the endeavor), but I wanted to drop in and say hello. I just discovered that you're a professor at SCU--that's where I did my undergrad! I wasn't in Leavey (I did philosophy and economics through A&S), but it's great to see someone from the Santa Clara community on Goodreads. Now I'm especially excited to read your book.


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Kara wrote: "Terri, I haven't read the book yet (I plan to start it as soon as I finish Anna Karenina which is quite the endeavor), but I wanted to drop in and say hello. I just discovered that you're a profes..."

Hi Kara,

Anna Karenina is a great book. You probably know that there is new movie version coming out later this year.

Thank god Tolstoy didn't write "The Plugged-in Manager."


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri,

I just posted a review of the book on Amazon. I will have a detailed review on my web site after the conference call.


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay wrote: "Terri,

I just posted a review of the book on Amazon. I will have a detailed review on my web site after the conference call."


Thank you. Reviews on Amazon are great for authors and readers alike. I love getting to see the diverse perspectives.

Looking forward to the conference call.


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Kara wrote: "Terri, I haven't read the book yet (I plan to start it as soon as I finish Anna Karenina which is quite the endeavor), but I wanted to drop in and say hello. I just discovered that you're a profes..."

Love making the connection here. Laughing at Jay's comment - no, my editors wouldn't have gone for the long Russian style.


Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments Terri, I'm working hard to be done in time for our call coming up. I love how much the book makes me look inside and outside at myself and the organizations that I'm a part of. Also thank you for your recent blog post about companies that are plugged-in!

Jacob


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri,

One of the lingering question I still have after giving more thought from reading your book has to do with innovation in management.

Is innovation in management necessary if the company has a leader who has defined a mission and purpose that people believe in?

For example, Steve Jobs is an obvious example, but also Robert Moses who helped build New York City.

These type of leaders accomplish great things in spite of any innovation in management. So is innovation in management more important for companies who don't have great leaders with great mission and purpose?

Is the purpose of having a plugged-in management to create a culture where a company's success is not dependent on having leaders like Steve Jobs?
Could these leaders be effective in a plugged-in culture?
Or, do you feel, that these leaders better get with the plugged-in program if they want to succeed?


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Even Apple, I suspect - no inside info, is plugged-in to a great degree. People they hire know what they're getting into. They know that some things are likely fixed (e.g., secrecy), [in Steve's time] Steve's way or the highway. There can still be a great mix even if some of the ingredients are fixed. Makes me think of some of the crazy Iron Chef episodes - fixed main ingredient, but great chefs know how to make the flavors spectacular. ...I really do need to write an Iron Chef blog post and that will be two you've instigated.

My colleagues and I make two claims in some on-going research. First is that the more plugged-in meeting participants are, the more likely the meeting is to be an accelerant to work versus an interruption. The second claim is that this effect is accentuated if more participants are plugged-in and/or if the leader is plugged-in. We see it as a range of benefit and are working on some research to test our expectations.

I'll make a new claim here: Given a visionary leader (visionary in terms of the business, perhaps not the management of the business), the more plugged-in those are around the leader, the better the leader will be able to reach his/her goals. Plugged-in people will see the fixed ingredients and not spend there time pushing there, but instead will work to leverage other variables to do great things. Now you've got me looking for examples.... Have any to share?


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri wrote: "Even Apple, I suspect - no inside info, is plugged-in to a great degree. People they hire know what they're getting into. They know that some things are likely fixed (e.g., secrecy), [in Steve's ti..."

I don't have any personal example, but I did see Gary Hamel in one of his video talk about a company in India called HCL that does some innovative things in managing people. Their CEO Vineet Nayar describes this in his book titled "Employees First."

Another example that I have seen that gets lot of write-up is "Morning Star," a tomato processing company and their CLOUs they negotiate with peers.

Also, I picked up two companies that Julie Clow mentions in her book, "The Work Revolution," that are innovative in management. The companies are Valve (gaming company) and Noom (mobile app company).

You are probably familiar with all these examples and more, but I thought I include them for others.


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay wrote: "Terri wrote: "Even Apple, I suspect - no inside info, is plugged-in to a great degree. People they hire know what they're getting into. They know that some things are likely fixed (e.g., secrecy), ..."

You're way ahead of me here. I know about Morning Star through Gary Hamel's work, and I have (but haven't read) The Work Revolution. A big thanks from all of us.


Jacob (paulsen) | 245 comments I've been thinking today about how a plugged-in manager might approach a hiring process/decision. Exciting to think about all the applications


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri can shed some light on how plugged-in managers hire people.

I would suspect that they would be looking for candidates who approach problems with a plugged-in mindset. Also, to see if they have used that approach in the past.


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Jay wrote: "Terri can shed some light on how plugged-in managers hire people.

I would suspect that they would be looking for candidates who approach problems with a plugged-in mindset. Also, to see if they h..."


...and the relationship the person needs to have with the organization and the tools they will need. Different human skills/abilities require diff tools (see this older post for more on the skills/abilities issues http://terrigriffith.com/blog/2010/10...) Will it be a formal job or more project based? Also, Jay is right in thinking that I'd want to know if the person has plugged-in experience. I'm a big fan of simulations (either as an evaluation tool or in the form of "work to hire") and structured behavioral interviewing "tell me about a time when you had to manage... - and code/probe for people tech, & org practice dimensions.


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri,

In your research, is gamification something plugged-in managers are using as a way to enable learning and teaching the plugged-in principles. If so, can you share with us how they are doing it.

Thanks.


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Gamification is like many organizational practices, it depends on how it is integrated with other practices, the particular people in the organization, and the technology support. I do think we'll be seeing thoughtful new applications and integrations with current organizational practices.

I went back through my related blog posts and think these will be helpful in terms of tactics - though they are from a broader perspective than just plugged-in management.

http://terrigriffith.com/blog/2011/05...
http://www.terrigriffith.com/blog/201...
http://terrigriffith.com/blog/2010/11...

For teaching Plugged-In Management, I think the benefits would come from both from motivating action (say, having to give short outcomes of a stop-look-listen practice, or by asking for the main levers of a mixing practice) and as a supplement to sharing (by using a leaderboard as a way of indicating what is working and what is not).

Do you see other opportunities for using gamification to extend plugged-in practice? I know that my FitBit (activity monitor) and its personal dashboard made me go up and down an extra 5 stairs yesterday. The power is certainly there.


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Jay Oza | 137 comments Terri,

The reason I brought this up is that as Millineals enter the job market, they have been brought up with playing video games. Companies have to adapt in ways to teach them in a way so they can learn fast and well.

It may not be my way of learning, but companies don't want to spend time and resources training these folks who learn in a different way.

It does not even have to be very sophisticated. For example, you can give out a $25 Kindle card a month for someone who comes up with a good plugged-in idea.


Terri Griffith | 18 comments Absolutely. Gamification doesn't have to mean "game." It's the use of game techniques (e.g., frequent flier awards with the badges of gold, platinum etc.


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