Tom Peters: Are you an 18-seconds manager?

Tom Peters: Are you an 18-seconds manager?

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Tom Peters (United States) is a co-author of In Search of Excellence—the book that changed the way the world does business and which is often tagged as the best business book ever. Sixteen books and almost 30 years later, Peters is still at the forefront of the “management guru industry” he single-handedly invented.

A Harvard med school doc by the name of Jerome Groopman wrote a lovely book called How Doctors Think. And he begins by saying:

“When you are engaging a patient, what is the number one source of evidence about that patient’s problem?” And he answers with the obvious answer—duh!—“the patient.”

The patient won’t use the right technical language, the signal-to-noise ratio won’t be all that high. But in the course of a 5-, or 10-, or 15-minute discussion, you will pull out an incredible number of pearls.

Okay, the best source of information about a patient’s ailment is the patient, comma. At that point, Groopman refers us or leads us to a research study that asks and then answers the following question:

How long is it before the doctor addresses you, sits down with you; how long is it before the doctor, on average, interrupts?

(but I’m going to halt for 3 seconds here while you think of what your answer is):

And if you said, “18 seconds,” you got it exactly right. Eighteen seconds and the doctor has interrupted with his opinion. Now, am I doing this little piece for you to trash doctors? Absolutely not.

I’m doing this little piece to trash you, among the bosses who are watching this, and any of us who are watching this who are experts or professionals or what have you. I bet you that among the bosses in any audience, seven out of eight are 18-second bosses. That is, it is, “Oh my god, I’ve seen this before. This is what you should do,” before you even express what the problem is.

The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization

So here’s the segue. I have come to the conclusion, and you may argue that this is overstated, but I don’t care whether you argue that or not; I believe it.

The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization: strategic listening to frontline employees, strategic listening to vendors, to customers.

Because you see, I really hate MBA programs, but someday I’m going to have my own MBA program. And the number-one core course in Tom’s MBA program is going to be a two-part, half-year-each course called Strategic Listening I and Strategic Listening II.

The reality is you can teach listening; you can get better at listening; there’s no issue about that. But guess what? It’s like playing the piano. It’s like becoming an actor. It’s like learning to be an artist. It is a profession that has to be learned. And it is my opinion that, as a leader or as a team member, that to a significant degree, your profession is listening.

So think about it. Are you an 18-second manager? Bet you are.

Now Hear This! Listening Is the Ultimate “Core Competence.”

Listening is … the ultimate mark of Respect.

Listening is … the heart and soul of Engagement.

Listening is … the heart and soul of Kindness.

Listening is … the heart and soul of Thoughtfulness.

Listening is … the basis for true Collaboration.

Listening is … the basis for true Partnership. Listening is … a Team Sport.

Listening is … a Developable Individual Skill.*

(*Though women are far better at it than men.)

Listening is … the basis for Community.

Listening is … the bedrock of Joint Ventures that work.

Listening is … the bedrock of Joint Ventures that last.

Listening is … the core of effective Cross-functional Communication*

(*Which is in turn Attribute #1 of organizational effectiveness.*)

Listening is … the engine of superior EXECUTION.

Listening is … the key to making the Sale.

Listening is … the key to Keeping the Customer’s Business.

Listening is … the engine of Network development.

Listening is … the engine of Network maintenance.

Listening is … the engine of Network expansion.

Listening is … Learning.

Listening is … the sine qua non of Renewal.

Listening is … the sine qua non of Creativity.

Listening is … the sine qua non of Innovation.

Listening is … the core of taking Diverse opinions aboard.

Listening is … Strategy.

Listening is … Source #1 of “Value-added.”

Listening is … Differentiator #1.

Listening is … Profitable.*

(*The “R.O.I.” from listening is higher than that from any other single activity.)

Listening underpins … Commitment to EXCELLENCE.

 

Do you agree with the above?

 

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … a Core Value?

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … perhaps Core Value #1?*

(*“We are Effective Listeners—we treat Listening EXCELLENCE as the Centerpiece of our Commitment to Respect and Engagement and Community and Growth”—or some such.)

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … a Core Competence?

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … Core Competence #1?

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … an explicit “agenda item” at every meeting?

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … our Strategy—per se? (Listening = Strategy.)

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … the #1 skill we look for in Hiring (for every job)?

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … the #1 attribute we examine in our Evaluations?

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … the #1 skill we look for in Promotion decisions?

If you agree, shouldn’t listening be … the #1 Training priority at every stage of everyone’s career—from Day #1 to Day LAST?

If you agree, what are you going to do about it … in the next 30 MINUTES?

If you agree, what are you going to do about it … at your NEXT meeting?

If you agree, what are you going to do about it … by the end of the DAY?

If you agree, what are you going to do about it … in the next 30 DAYS?

If you agree, what are you going to do about it … in the next 12 MONTHS?

 

Used by permission of Tom Peters. See tompeters.com for more information.

 

The GuruBook by Jonathan Løw

We would like to thank Jonathan Løw, the editor of The GuruBook for kindly letting us publish this chapter by Tom Peters – Are you an 18-Seconds Manager?

You can find Jonathan Løw both at LinkedIn and at Facebook

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