Friday, June 1, 2007

How to Get Things Done - Colin Powell Version

My brother recently sent me a paraphrased list of Colin Powell's 'rules'. This is a man that has experienced the highest echelons of power, has been thoroughly tested, and knows how to get things done. I found his list doubly interesting. First, I think the rules are useful and insightful. Second, I was surprised by the fact that they overlap with my How to Get Things Done post. I like that some of what I've learned in the technology industry matches to lessons Colin Powell has learned in the military and in politics.

Colin Powell's Rules
  1. Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.
  2. The day employees stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.
  3. Don't be buffaloed by experts and elites.
  4. Don't be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.
  5. Never neglect details.
  6. You don't know what you can get away with until you try.
  7. Keep looking below surface appearances. Don't shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find.
  8. Organizations and plans don't really accomplish anything. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved.
  9. Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.
  10. Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.
  11. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team's mission
  12. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
  13. Rules for Picking People: Look for intelligence and judgment, and most critically, a capacity to anticipate. Look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego, and the drive to get things done.
  14. Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.
  15. Use your gut:
    1. Part I: "Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired.
    2. Part II: "Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut.
  1. The man on the front line is always right and management is wrong, unless proved otherwise.
  2. Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.
  3. Command is lonely.
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