Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rock Drills and Attention Deficit Trait

I read business management articles when I can--and I came across two really good ones today. I started doing this after being shipped off to HBS for executive education against my will by my old employer, the World Bank, and I discovered that what I had held in contempt in my callow undergraduate days was actually a lot more useful and engaging than my stints at more academic graduate institutions.

Anyway, here are my two finds. The first is about rock drills, cited in a Slate article about Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial. John Dickerson cites Jay Garner going through "rock drills" ex post when trying to figure out all the things they had not foreseen when they originally invaded Iraq. And as the Stars and Stripes article explains, a rock drill is essentially a dress rehearsal carried out on a game board. And this concept was really appealing to me because I have long felt that when I have led initiatives or events or projects, the most effective ones have been the ones where I have somehow been able to structure drawing out all the different pieces coming together, and getting the team to come along on talking/walking through each of the steps, and relying on everyone in the team being able to spot the gaps or the missing assumptions. I now have a name for my favorite managerial tool (although my staff will tell you I'm actually obsessed with matrices instead.)

The second management article I came across today was on Marcia Conner's website--I was migrating my remaining blog subscriptions from Bloglines to Google Reader and I had to look up Marcia's blog address. Well, I got distracted along the way and saw her recommending an HBR article about Attention Deficit Trait--the syndrome where really high-performing people suddenly start manifesting distractibility, inner frenzy, and impatience, because they are multi-tasking too much. Feels very much on point, and the article suggests concrete ways of dealing with it.

Jay Garner

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