Avery Pennarun with his thoughts and book review on Andy Grove’s High Output Management:
An executive with 8,000 indirect reports and 2000 hours of work in a year can afford to spend, at most, 15 minutes per year per person in their reporting hierarchy… even if they work on nothing else. That job seems impossible. How can anyone make any important decision in a company that large? They will always be the least informed person in the room, no matter what the topic.
If you know me, you know I’ve been asking myself this question for a long time.
Luckily, someone sent me a link to a really great book, High Output Management, by Andy Grove (of Intel fame). Among many other things, it answers this key question! And insultingly, just to rub it in, it answered this question back in the 1980s.
To paraphrase the book, the job of an executive is: to define and enforce culture and values for their whole organization, and to ratify good decisions.
Not to decide. Not to break ties. Not to set strategy. Not to be the expert on every, or any topic. Just to sit in the room while the right people make good decisions in alignment with their values. And if they do, to endorse it. And if they don’t, to send them back to try again.
Thanks for the reminder Avery! I’ve added it to my list of books to pickup at the library.