Monday, 4 April 2011

I wanna tell you a story...

You've probably read one... the fictionalised management / leadership stories that seek to apply learning to real-life - but actually artificial - scenarios. I've read several... and have enjoyed reading them AND learnt from them. The works of Patrick Lencioni I have found helpful - tackling the issues of meetings, teams, executive skills, silos and turf wars. Going further back there was the work of Ken Blanchard with the 'one minute manager' series.These books often confess themselves to be 'Fables' - short, moral stories designed to teach a specific point and fit the description but are a bit longer than biblical parables.

But why not deal in reality? Jim Collins identified companies in his first book 'Built to Last' that were visionary companies and then showed why some could make the jump from 'Good to Great' in his second major title before examining why some of those once mighty companies had fallen in his 2009 writings 'How the Mighty Fall'. Reality for Collins meant that several of the 'built to last' companies became the fallen mighty...At least Collins has been honest enough to recognise that business and leadership doesn't always have a fairy-tale, happy-ever-after ending. Collins tries to 'clean-up' the stories but can't quite match the 'artificial lab' of the leadership fable for its clarity in ensuring that nothing distracts from key messages.

Will I stop reading either type of literature - NO... in fact Jim Collins kept my attention for 3 hours in the car yesterday with his 'How the Mighty Fall' audiobook and Lencioni's recent 'Getting Naked' (about what sabotages loyalty) is on my Amazon wishlist. I can learn from both ways of tackling these fascinating subjects, as well as from the point-by-point approach of writers like John Maxwell. (see my 'Bright Side of Life' post for one of his stories)

Will I write a leadership fable about education... probably not, as no-one who knows anything about education would believe for one moment the 'fable-style' story... schools are just not like that....

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