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Submitted by Mark on


I get asked a lot about my favorite management quote.  It's elsewhere on the site, but I thought I'd make it its own post to make it easy to find.  Just tell your friends to search on "Mark's Favorite Management Quote".  That ought to be easy enough.

If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.
But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.
It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way -
The General loses his stars, and the block-men die
In unstrategic defiance of martial law
Because still used to just being men, not block parts.

John Brown's Body, Stephen Vincent Benet

fchalif's picture
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Hi Mark,

thank you for sharing, not a day goes by without some though in my mind about Manager-Tools and how it has helped me become a better manager.

Slow is Fast......


jdschwind's picture

I attended a seminar where the facilitator shared that there were times when he would wince when his manager brought him a project that by all practical purposes was already late.  He would look at the manager, point to a triangle on his wall and state "Pick two."  The image was a triangle divided into three equal sections with a label for each section.  Those labels were QUICK, FAST, CHEAP.  Mind you this was not his way to be combative to his boss, but his way of keeping his boss's expectations realistic.

He told his manager that there was no way he could produce a project with all three characteristics.  Managers must allow their staff to complete the mission on time.  And that every plan should address any worst case situations that may arise and have cushions built in.  There will be times when things do go pear shaped, but those should come with an understanding of why.

sholden's picture
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You can listen to Mark reading this quote via this link:

CarlCoach's picture

This is very useful information for me. Thank you very much for the link!

US41's picture

Mark also likes to say that management is people, and people are messy. 

If you don't like messes, you won't like management. Because successful management is to embrace the chaos and learn to influence within it to get what everyone needs rather than control and fix it.