All entries for January 2009

January 28, 2009

Miraculous solutions…or not.

PIUSS module is an interesting one. I still miss more specific discussions but it is obviously impossible to do it with 24 people around.

I liked the guest speaker but I have got to make a comment about the first one. He is the owner of a consultancy that helps in the implementation of process improvement solutions. His material is very good (and I`ve see material from other places, but I think his material is better). But he has he same problem most consultants have. Even though he consciously and rationally would not say that his solution is not complete, not perfect and is not able to solve everything (because it is OBVIOUS that there is no complete solution in the world) he still, quite often, criticises other approaches in a way that seems to insinuate his is the complete, the vest one. It is logical that he likes and thinks his approach is the best, but just as any other serious and structured approach it has gaps and flaws. I`ve seen quite a few presentations from consultants. I`ve worked enough time to know how they talk, what is the speech. And there is always this kind of "My solution is the best, and the others are incomplete because they don`t consider that and don`t think about that other thing."  His competitor would say the same about his...

I think six sigma, specially with that Deming approach that actually puts more attention on the system of profound knowledge then in the statistics or DMAIC, DFSS, is a very interesting and clever approach. It is capable of great things (with all the needed support in place) however just like any other method it has its flaws. Them it comes a big question. Is Deming complete? I really don`t think i know enough to answer that question but I will use one of Deming`s principles, the theory of knowledge, to give an idea based on my theoretical thinking. Based on that the answer would be NO, Deming is not complete because nothing is complete, the world changes ideas and science evolve. But from my EXTREMELLY small knowledge I must admit that as time passes I agree more and more with him. Some of the things I did not connect first are making more sense now. But I`m not sure if Deming had this consultant posture they all have and our friend on Monday also had.

Now, just to be and add a bit controversy. This whole idea of "my-model-is-amazing-and-complete-and-much-better-and-wiser-them-the-other-models-and-consultants-around"  reminds me a bit of religion. Don`t they all work a bit like that?

January 22, 2009

Charismatic leaders

As I wrote a few posts ago I always enjoyed leading (and I must say that I`m quite proud with the fact that I have been able to be a good follower several times lately, and I did it on a conscious way, a learning way, trying to understand what was the most productive behaviour, how other people behaved and led).  I also have always understood that my leadership skill was mainly based on my social skills, my charisma. But I always thought that leading by charisma was dangerous, not desirable, fragile and would not work in the long term. I was quite surprised reading the theory about it stating that ity was an useful ans perfectly understandable to be a charismatic leader and that it could be used just as much as any other leadership technique and that actually it was highly desirable in certain situations (specifically transformational ones). 

Well, I must say that I`m a rational person and I believe in science and experiment, but I`m still a bit unsure. And somehow I don`t want to be sure about that because I think that by not being sure I`ll force myself to learn new skills and leadership traits while keeping the charisma, i`ll not accommodate and still keep this ability. Certainty can be a poison to evolution in any aspect and leadership is no different. 

January 20, 2009

Deming, always holistic…

Working on the PIUSS project we decided to divide the questions among us. It is not the best way learning-wise however is the quickest way and for us now, the quicker the better.

Anyway, did a lot of reading on variation and it`s very easy to relate Deming`s understanding of variation with 6 Sigma. However is not so easy to relate it on an isolated way to Psychology. That is funny since Psy is related to pretty much everything. 

So I had a long discussion about it with Cristal and Gilbert on the computer lab. We reached two conclusions, first (and obvious) is that a holistic vision is always needed (and actually Deming says that himself, all parts must be applied together). Psychology must be understood alongside variation, theory of knowledge and appreciation of a system. Secondly is that exactly for being part of all psychology can be related to everything, after all organisations are made of people....But I`d think the best connection between psychology on the SoPK and 6 sigma would be the need of conduct change in which psychology can help but 6 Sigma can also help since it is a structured and tested way. Even the fact that the name "six sigma"is famous can be o f great help to conduct change.

Heroic leader

Writing about The Dark Knight and Leadership from Jingjing's blog

I read this entry by Jing Jing and something that I`ve longed thought of came to my mind. To explain it I`ll go through a small personal history.

I have always liked to be in front of things so many years ago I was an intern in a company (actually a British one in Brazil) an they decided to hire a large number of interns at the same time to build the team of a new department they were creating. They divided us in teams of about 3-4 people each to handle different activities and at first they did not specify anyone to be "responsible" for each team, we were generally managed by the same person. But naturally each team ended up having an informal leader that was naturally recognised as so by everyone else (later it became formal, but I was already working in another area).

I was the leader of my team. We had an activity that was not fun, was kind of boring and repetitive but was probably the most risky one because one mistake could represent real losses for both the company and the client. I`m glad to say that compared to tha amount of transactions we handled we rarely committed mistakes, even though we once committed a big one that really was our fault, but since I was the leader I assumed it as my mistake, but in the other hand I`m ashamed to say that looking backwards we were so naive and had so little control and no understanding at all about processes, systems, etc. Anyway, we managed to be a very close and united team and even though the work was boring an repetitive we were proud together.

But there was something that gave me pleasure. I loved problems. When we had a problem or a complaint/question from our internal clients, even though that was a potential mistake we committed (most of the time it wasn`t) I liked because I had to investigate, to figure it out. Basically I loved outing "fires" of. It is understandable but it is also stupid. I liked being the hero and fixing things up. I liked the heroic leader thing. In my defence I have to say that I soon realised that rationally that was stupid, that even though my boss liked it and it put in me in a good position I`ve already understood that the simple fact that we had problems meant we had bad processes and planning. A heroic leader on that sense, someone who puts fires off is a bad thing. But as the literature recognises he is frequently praised and rewarded. I realised that many years ago (even though I benefited from it) and I`m glad all authors agree on that.

Of course JingJing posts can also refer to the heroic leader in the sense of the guy who had nothing to do with the lack of planning before and steps in to fix it. Churchill on WW2, Obama now, etc etc etc.

But the real good leader is the one who is able to avoid problems, is the unsung hero who prevents problems. But people do not see it.... 

January 19, 2009


Do you know what is an Anarchist? It is somebody that does not believe in having organised systems governing societies, political organisations and that actually fights against it. He likes the idea that people should rule themselves instead of living under an organised political process.

Relating that to leadership. Are Anarchists actually advocating that each one should govern oneself, therefore stimulating people to be leaders or actually saying leaders, at least formal institutionalised ones, are not needed? Or they are doing both? Are they pro or against leaders? Formally thinking they are against because all leadership theory is built based on the idea that one to be a leader must have followers, that is exactly what the anarchists are against (again, at least on the political/institutional level, my very limited knowledge about it does not know if the say applies to other kinds of leadership...).

Anyway, I`ve became more curious about them...Will try to find sometime to read and learn about.


Ps. Sue, I really like your opinions even realising that you are kind of bored with all the posts about leadership, but believe me is an act of discipline because since I`m not crazy about the subject but it is part of my master degree to understand a bit more about it, therefore as an exercise of discipline I`m trying, with my limited knowledge, to reflect on the matter. By the way, being yourself such a mythical figure you should enlighten us with an address to your own blog or some informations about yourself, but I must say that I, for one, like very much your comments!

January 18, 2009

Share the vision – Che Guevara

Back from the arts centre. Went to see the movie about Che Guevara (quite nice movie, recommended) . Che was a very good example of a charismatic leader (I`m not saying that based on the movie, that is a work of fiction of course). There is a moment in the movie where there is a dialogue in which a reporter asks Che why he follows Fidel and why the Cuban people followed them. And he says because Fidel was able to share his vision. Well it is much easier to share a vision if you are good at communication and charisma, but and if you are not? We could get again in the discussion about born and made and decide that one could be trained to improve in bith communication and charisma, but the movie (again, the movie, not necessarily the real character) provides onde answer in which I believe. Example.

On the movie, Che did not have any privileges, fought desperately against his breathing difficulties (he had ashtma), and besides that someone who graduates in a medical school and voluntarily decides to joining that movement had some authority based on the example. So, its the old story, to be respected you have got to set example, have got to walk the talk.

January 15, 2009

LEadership definition

More and more about leadership.

Writing it today I kind of realised the obvious. The best definition of leadership will always depend on what it is made for. Reading on Bass guide about it and it just pop up on me. But the more I read about it the more I think that the main thing a leader has to do is helping to build the future. THe leader should only be concerned about every day matters if by not doing so he is jeopardising his vision for the future. That is why like Jack Welch frequently says, his most important activity on GE was cultivating people, was human resources management. Because developing people is building the future.

So Leaders of the world, think about the future as much as you can, and manage the everyday matters as little as necessary...

LEarning and using

Working on my LE PMA and got very aware about leadership and how people use it, how people who have a tendency to lead behave. That why today I was in a meeting for the SLLC, were elected representants of all the programs in WMG meet to discuss several matters. Thinking that we are all volunteers elected by our colleagues to represent them is reasonable to assume that all of us have, in some degree, a tendency to lead. Well, there was a moment in which it was hard to find an agreement on a specific question. I was paying so much attention in everyone`s behaviour that I did not really paid attention to the matter. I saw how some people try to use rational arguments, others tryed to make different proposals combine by mixing (and it was the worst solution, both the original ones worked well on themselves but mixing, in my opinion was worse them any of them individually). Some other people were not really dictatorial because the situation did not allow but by paying attention I could feel that if the situation allowed they would rather had decided alone. 

No one had a similar approach and by only concentrating on them I could see some theories working. Interesting experiment....

January 08, 2009

Obama and (once again!) leadership

I was reading Time magazine the other day, the edition in which they elected Obama man of the year. There`s a hell lot material about him and as I was reading two contradictory feelings came to me. First I got a bit emotional, because of all the people that got so happy and so full of hope because of him. That is beautiful and specially needed in harsh and violent times like now. Second I`ve got worried because I though that his challenges are so big and people have such high hopes that frustration will probably come, and that will be something to get worried, because people frustrated in times like these can have some very unhealthy behaviours.

But them, right in the middle of the magazine there`s a interview with him.  I must say I got impressed. I was amazed about how transparent and sometimes humble but not in a artificial way he was. He was always very objective and direct. He talks about leadership, about what are his qualities as a leader and I was amazed that all he said was so similar to what we have been discussing, and what I think is important. 

Some post ago I wrote about the important of honest, transparent communication even when you have bad news and that is exaclty what he did. I was very impressed and I will use that material on my PMA.

Now I`m under the impression that even not delivering all that is expected he will still be popular and a source of hope because of those ability to communicate clearly, directly and honestly. That is real leadership, a real talented leader.

January 2009

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