The Business Of Business Is Business

By being on MIT campus for the longest proportion of my life (25% of my life) I’d always hear about “Sloan” as the management school, and over the years have taken time to learn more about Alfred P. Sloan (who gave gobs of money to MIT). One of my favorite findings today is this piece on him in The Economist:

His management style is well illustrated by his famous summing up at the end of a GM senior executive meeting. “Gentlemen, I take it we are all in complete agreement on the decision here,” he started, and everyone nodded their heads in agreement. “Then,” he went on, “I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until the next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement, and perhaps gain some understanding of what the decision is all about.”

I love this passage because lately at Automattic I’ve been seeking more frontstabbing instead of backstabbing in the teams in which I participate and/or lead. For example, last week a member of my team indicated that out of a series of negative feedback points given to me, one was “positive 🎉” (marked as such explicitly).

And at that very moment I’d realized how I’d failed to communicate how much I truly, truly love feedback. Because I’ve found that all things shared with me candidly is “positive 🎉” to me — because it’s only through working through disagreements that we create a longer lasting path to a successful collaboration.

When the stakes are highest, sharing one’s strongestly held thoughts and letting them go to their boss — even when such negative feedback could possibly offend them — is simply the best thing ever. Because the boss can do something about it, sometimes. As a design boss, I love getting a shot at least to see if I can improve (smile).

With that thought … another week awaits! —JM