All entries for December 2007

December 31, 2007

Review & Resolute

Had a look of what Paul wanted us to write at the beginning fro the term. I am not sure if I under performed or under achieved, or I was too ambitious and audacious? I suppose the outcome is always something slightly different than what you expect is a way of life. There were so many things I didn't keep up to, for this or that kind of reason or excuse. I never envisioned my life in this sort of way, I used to have a completely different idea.

However, I guess what happened in the past is always something worth to treasure. It is either a experience you shall celebrate and appreciate, or something you could learn one or two points from. It is often a bit late for me to realise that, like my view on people seemed has taken a change. I now tend to see the strength instead of weakness, (like: Johanna always trying to lead-invited everybody for a beer in SU after LE; Karn always have an interesting idea and get you inspired; Alice seems to be always well planned and organised; Max always trying to make an effort and take on things positively; Hiren is always able to show his wit, when you ran out of ideas; ...) and perhaps I would only consider what Paul call improvement. It is always can be done better.

Is your life is exactly as you envisioned? 

Why Democracy?

Writing about web page

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time ." I think Winston Churchill once said that. The interesting documentary has resembled great similarities to even many of the important political elections, like the one is happening now in the united states.

Is democratically elected leaders better than the one who's not? Is democracy necessary better? Does a democratic leader makes better decisions? Perhaps not, democratic decisions simply means the view of the majority. But not necessarily the correct one nor the truth. Being democratic and making joint decisions perhaps is more effective depends on the situations. It is perhaps even true it might have a slighter possibilities to generate a better alternatives, since we were able to combine everyone's intelligence.

Why I still feel for managers it is a easy option to buy-in? To shift the responsibilities?  I guess it all sums up to which kind leader you want to be, not in terms of the outcome but in terms of the style or patterns.

Mao Tse–tung

Writing about web page

Mao Tse-tung perhaps is the most controversial figure in the history of China. It is believed that Teng Hsiao-p'ing who reform the Chinese economy has once commented in private, 70% merits 30% faults. He is considered by lots of people (especially communists, but openly would not say so) as valuable to the Chinese Revolution, but too many faults when in office and is guilty for the Culture Revolution. There is also a saying, if he passed away before 1956 (the year before great leap started) instead of 1976, probably the image being portrait in China today would be closer to reality.

Mao Tse-tung

The people at the economists, think Mao is a role model for today's manager who should not be managing at all. Maybe they have got a point. What perhaps they didn't capture is what Mao has master the essence of a learning organisations. He had a guiding idea, "smash the old world, establish the new world". Theory, methods and tools took the form of "big character posters" or the alike. Everybody was writing it, and it was everywhere. It is even reflective, one could say, wasn't "Criticism And Self-Criticism" an important part of Maoism practises? Innovation in Infrastructure, remember thousands of red guards gathering in front of the gate of heavenly peace? They were truly empowered by the highest command. They were very innovative as well, citing the words from the little red book (a theory indeed) and question "the four olds".

The people at the economists were right at two things though, Mao is truly inspiring, but maybe in the wrong way. The other is, as put by Rensis Likert, time is a key variable in evaluating management systems. Yes, in the long run, we found out.

December 10, 2007

Effectiveness and Sustainability

I still think the best way of measure the effectiveness is over time. Isn't that how effectiveness defined? Successful or Failure, Good or Bad is  a measure at a particular point. Effective is existing in fact. Only thru sustainability, it can be said it is existing. In time, the leadership will show the facts of being effective or the contrary.

Managers vs. Leaders and Groups vs. Teams

Saw these somewhere, thought it was Warren Beniss made some similar comparisons between managers and leaders.They also made a distinction between groups and teams, which I thought was interesting.

What do you think?


  • Is concerned with growth
  • Is a director
  • Writes the script
  • Challenges people
  • Has vision
  • Exercises power of shared purpose
  • Defines what is real as what is possible
  • Motivates
  • Inspires
  • Illuminates

Leader-Manager Team

  • Is concerned with institutional growth
  • Engages reflective practise management
  • Communicates meanings of the script
  • Channels challenges into morally fulfilling and productive programs
  • Institutionalises vision
  • Enables power of professional and moral community

  • Defines reality as what is possible for now, for our circumstances; tomorrow may be different
  • Facilitates reflective practise
  • Encourages
  • Cheerleads; celebrates


  • Is concerned with maintenance
  • Is a stage manager
  • Follows the script
  • Keeps people happy
  • Keeps lists, schedules, budgets
  • Exercises power of sanctions and rewards
  • Defines what is real as what is
  • Controls
  • Fixes
  • Coordinates

In groups, individual establish roles which set expectations and governing relations. From time to time, there are confusion and conflict. In team, people have a shared understanding of how to perform their roles.

Team has an identity and group does not.

Team has an enspirt, shows a sense of bounding.

Group are easily bogged down into trivial issues. Team uses facilitators to get into the right path.

Group members centres on themselves, team members are committed to open communication.

Team is flexible. Group is rigid.

Team is ethuastic about the purpose. 


Why human organisations always took the form in social hierarchy? Is this part of our nature as monkeys? Or it has a piratical purpose in managing? Piling up in order, is it even an effective way of management? Is it social hierarchy produced the power? Unlikely if only think in terms of positions. But didn't hierarchy originally only meant ranking people or things? Perhaps it is more than that, in Greeks, it meant sacred rule. Who is the sacred ones? I could think of Zeus and Hera. Where did they got their tremendous power from? I think that is us. Is hierarchy only exist in our minds? What about the power?

I think therefore I am. René Descartes once said that. Can the similar to be said with power? 

Power of the Leader

What is power? Power is the force that can be applied to work. Leadership and influence are a function of power. Power is the potential to influence. Summarised by Bernard Bass. We distinguished personal power and positional power. Perhaps there is more that we can categorise and summarise, compare and distinguish. But the most important thing to me, is the importance of power to leadership. Without power, leaders can no longer influence. But isn't that we feel the influence of leadership was because of power as well?

Great Leader

There are some discussion regards what is great leader in the classroom. Triggered some old thoughts of mine.

The wicked leader is he who the people despise.

The good leader is he who the people revere.

The great leader is he who the people say, we did it ourselves.

                                                          - Lao Tsu

I suppose this is perhaps one could best summarise for what is a great leader. (I still believe great is a term that only means relative but nothing more) An example? The only great leader I had in mind is George Washington, and I cannot find another even close.

George Washington

It is said during the Constitution Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, he participated little in the debates involved. He perhaps was aware that his high prestige and authority established in the American Revolution might restrain other's opinion. He resigned his commission as commander-in-chief to the Congress of the Confederation after the war. He refused to run a third term as president.

Paul kept mentioning the dark side of personal power. I guess George Washington is one of the few realised that the prestige of their personal power at the same time are becoming authoritative positional power upon his followers. His greatest achievement was refraining from taking more power than was due. He had no interest in nepotism or cronyism.

I often wondered perhaps it is his legacy made the U.S. of A. prosper in the last 200 years. (It would be very interesting if in 50 years time, when historians look back the greatest factor which contributes to USA's declination from superpower...were in fact caused by powerful political families like Kennedy, Bush, and Clinton...if Hillary should win 2008 election. The background of the potential candidates for presidency is already in contradiction of what founding fathers had in their mind, practically nowadays candidates are those who can afford to be a president)


there were some mistake on my parts, with the discussion on motivation. The survey I mentioned did not ask people to weight but to rank employee expectations, so basically I was reading the information inversely. The original survey summarised as below:

Supervisor Ranking Staff Ranking What do people want from their job
3 Promotion in the company
7 10  Tactful discipline
2 Job security
9 Help with personal problems
6 Personal loyalty of supervisor
1 Highwages
8 Full appreciation of work done
4 Good working conditions
10 Feeling of being in on things
5 Interesting work

The original analysis was indicating what supervisor rank the lowest (8, 9, 10) are rank the highest by staff (1, 2, 3). It is trying to convey to managers that often staff rank intrinsic motivations much higher than extrinsic ones.

Even I made a mistake (rank instead of weight) when carrying this piece of information during the discussion, but it is very interesting how Paul explained it and interpret the information. He made me realise one of the most important and fundamental elements in the discussions of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. No matter what you believes to be the source of motivation for people, which one must realise the statement is a generalisation. The key is there are differences among people. Thus some may be motivated by intrinsic sources and some by extrinsic sources from time to time. The explanation of this is very simple, Maslow categorise human needs into 3 major categories:

    • Needs fulfilled, no longer salient
    • Salient needs
    • Needs still not salient

    Weather the motivation is intrinsic or extrinsic is an issue of the primary range, if physiological or security needs are the primary range of salient needs, naturally people seems to be motivated by extrinsic sources. Similarly, if cognitive or self-actualisation needs are in the primary range, people are motivated by extrinsic sources.

    Let's have another look at the survey, where the supervisor ranked the highest (1,2,3) are ranked by staff in the middle (4, 5, 7). Why the difference? Perhaps this can be explained by the following. The needs of staff at the time of survey which comes from extrinsic sources, are needs either fulfilled, no longer salient or past deprivations, still salient. 

    Leadership & Excellence

    I was pondering for a while, why Paul decided to name the module leadership & excellence instead of simply leadership. Not for long, I realised, the answer lies in excellence not in leadership. In EFQM excellence model, it says "excellent results...are achieved through leadership driving...". What highlighted here implies leadership is the driver of excellence.

    Similarly, Deming's 14 points are in the chapter named "Principles for Transformation of Western Management" and in his latter book the New Economics, one chapter is dedicated to "Leadership" and another concerns their primary task "Management of People".

    I am still not so sure why Deming quoted Langmuir on "You can not plan to make a discovery" in the chapter of leadership. Perhaps he meant the transformation which requires leadership is not spontaneous. Leaders with great ideas must understands people and persuade them. He shall be leading the people.

    December 2007

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