Several years ago, when blogging was relatively new, I was a weekly contributor to a very popular blog called Lifehack.org. The word ‘lifehack’ was new to our vocabulary then too, and we were defining it quite broadly and on-the fly, simply offering our ideas on how to make things easier and better in a rapidly changing world where all-things-digital kept rearing its head, clamoring for our attention. As a Lifehack.org columnist, my task was to focus our readers on savvy management and thoughtful leadership.
Swept up in the mood of the time, I began to think of lifehacking as a kind of distillation in productivity: Distillation is a process where you purify a liquid to its essence, by vaporizing whatever excess you really don’t need, so you can work with the resulting condensation. As managers, we condense as a survival skill; we seek to make everything more concrete, tangible and concise so we know exactly what we’re dealing with. We pursue relevancy, so every effort can be well-connected, and if we’re lucky, well contained.
This is rarely a solitary job for us. Others are, and should be involved. But when, exactly, and how?
Managing by the Numbers
To answer that question, one of the management/leadership ‘things’ I began to hack away at within my own workplace productivity was numerology — the ways I would get numbers to work for me. The distillation I wanted to achieve, was understanding what managerial batching was best for my Ho‘ohana, the cultural work of Managing with Aloha.
This turned out to be quite a playful experiment and meaningful set of experiences. Numbers began to mean a few specifics for me; they began to tell me what to do on my own terms, i.e. what approach to take in certain situations, just as I’ve learned to do with value-mapping.
My workplace of choice morphs quite a bit these days, yet I still think of myself as a working manager. To be smartly productive, this is the way I have hacked my managerial batching in MWA culture-building:
1 by 1 — 2 by 2 — Just 5 — 7 Strong
Let’s go through each batch, and define their usefulness.
1 by 1
Job 1 for the Alaka‘i Manager is healthy, with-ALOHA culture-building in the workplace, and they are fully cognizant of the fact that real people are their building blocks. They understand that people are driven by their personal values first, and a culture’s organizational values second — hopefully! That’s always the goal! This process of value alignment, where an individual’s Ho‘ohana [work of intention] finds its rightful and most fulfilling place in a workplace culture, guided and coached well by an Alaka‘i Manager, is, and must be done one person at a time. It honors that person completely, and it truly is the most practical approach to take as well. We don’t manage by the book; we manage by the person.
2 by 2
Partner is our word of choice in the MWA verbiage; that’s what we call each other instead of employees, and we think of ourselves as fully vested business partners. The number 2 is about all other workplace relationships extended in partnership, evoking the feeling that “It takes 2 to tango.” Where the 1 by 1 batch defines the working relationship between an individual and their manager, the 2 by 2 batch defines an individual’s personal relationship and professional partnership with everyone else they’ll interact with in a workplace culture — co-workers, other authority figures and divisional liaisons, vendors and suppliers, customers, etc. A team of two engaged in their best-possible collaboration is the essence of every relationship; there is a symbiosis there to be optimized and to be fully enjoyed.
In MWA culture-building, ‘Just 5’ carries two meanings.
- Just 5 minutes each day for The Daily 5 Minutes. We say, “If you aren’t doing the D5M you aren’t managing with Aloha” and we mean it, for conversation reigns supreme in our daily practice. (Find our newest reference page for D5M here, and learn about its history in this book excerpt.)
- Just 5 is our list bucket. We “Take 5” to contain any and all list-making within 5 items max, feeling that more is likely to be unreasonable. We feel that “Less absolutely IS More” and having to stop at 5 helps us focus on what is most important and deserving of our attentions. (It’s a condensation.)
‘7 Strong’ is the group batching we have adopted for larger teams within the MWA workplace. This batching has been developed through the years in my first-hand experience, where a group of no larger than 7 people has consistently proved to be the best possible size of a team assembled for project work. We think of “7 Strong!” as the mantra for any and all focus groups, task force teams and pilot projects, and the coaching here is that collective strengths are in play: Each person is expected to, and challenged to bring their specific strengths into the work at hand as their tangible contribution. The bonus in this approach, is that when a project pilot is over, team members value each other with added significance — they have learned more about each others talents, and they connect a teammate’s personality and character to their values and strengths going forward.
In the workplaces managed with ALOHA we manage strengths, not standards. Feeling good must include feeling strong:
- See Key 7 on Strengths Management within our 9 Key Concepts
- MWA Site Category for more articles on Key 7
Are you fully aware of the strengths your partners possess, and can potentially share with you?
Reckon with your numbers
Managerial batching has been my way to appreciate numerology more fully than before, seizing the practical nature of numbers on my terms, and within my values. When I started my career, I was that manager who only equated numbers with finance — and the thought made me groan, for back then, finance meant budget (i.e. Ironclad Rule) more than it meant strategic opportunity (i.e. Parameter for Reinvention) as it does now.
So I encourage you to do your own reckoning with ‘the numbers’ and to do it quicker than the time it took me: Gain your batching advantage, and grab onto it now. Numerology and batching are beautiful things once you make them useful to you. If you work within a peer group of other managers and supervisors, taking a unified approach to managerial batching will help you perform consistently.
Other numbers we have claimed in our MWA Language of Intention: