High Output Management – Andrew S. Grove
High Output Management” by the late Andrew Grove, ex-Chairman and CEO of Intel, is a must-read management book.
All (product) managers can benefit from the principles discussed below and make it a part of their day-to-day working practices.
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Identifying the “limiting step”
The “limiting step” is the step in the overall shape of the production flow that will determine the overall shape of a company’s operations.
For example, the time required to boil an egg is the critical component or the “limiting step” in the production flow of serving breakfast.
The key idea here is to construct your production flow by starting with the longest (or most difficult, or most sensitive, or most expensive) step and working your way back.
Detect and fix issues at the “lowest-value stage” possible
If there’s a problem with your product, you want to find out about it as early on in the production process as possible so that you can minimise the risk.
Using (leading) indicators to measure and predict
In order to run a production process well, you’ll need a set of indicators that help you monitor and improve the efficiency of the production line.
Leading indicators like the sales forecast, inventory, manpower and quality give you one way to look inside the production process by showing you in advance what the future might look like.
Leverage is the output generated by a specific type of work activity. An activity with high leverage will generate a high level of output; an activity with low leverage will generate a low level of output. This raises the question about what qualifies as managerial leverage and output.
High leverage activities
To maximize the leverage of his or her activities, a manager must keep timeliness firmly in mind. Equally, managers’ micromanaging or “meddling” are examples of negative leverage activities. A big part of a manager’s job is to supply information and know-how and to share a sense of the preferred method of handling things with the teams under his control or influence.
The Output Of A Manager
A manager’s output is the sum of all of the people and teams that report to her. That output can take many different forms, depending on the type of role and industry.
Regardless of the form of output, managers must measure its quantity and quality.
A manager’s output = The output of his organisation + The output of the neighbouring organisations under his influence
Three ways to achieve high-leverage activities
- When many people are affected by one manager.
- When a person’s activity or behaviour over a long period of time is affected by a manager’s, well-focused set of words or actions.
- When a large group’s work is affected by an individual supplying a unique, key piece of knowledge or information.
Ways to improve on time management techniques
Identify our limiting step: determine which things have to happen on an absolute schedule and which can’t be moved. You can then plan more flexible activities around it and thus work more efficiently.
Batching similar tasks: group similar activities, e.g., performance reviews, as these activities tend to require mental set-up time. You can thus maximize the set-up time needed for the task and reduce duplication of effort.
Forecasting your activities: Your calendar can be a valuable production-planning tool.
Meetings And Their Output
A lot of managerial tasks are best suited for face-to-face interactions, and more often than not, for meetings. There are two kinds of meetings:
- Process-oriented meetings: Knowledge is shared and information is exchanged during process-oriented meetings, which take place on a regular, scheduled basis.
- Mission-oriented meetings: The purpose of mission-oriented meetings is to solve a specific problem and often produce a decision.
If people spend more than 25 percent of their time in meetings, it’s a sign of malorganisation.
Planning: Today’s actions for tomorrow’s output
Three steps your planning process should consist of:
Step 1 – Establish projected need or demand: What will the environment demand from you, your business, or your organisation?
Step 2 – Establish your present status: What are you producing now?
Step 3 – Compare and reconcile steps 1 and 2: What more (or less) do you need to do to produce what your environment will demand?