Using the analogy of a sliding tile puzzle he points out that if you fill the empty slot, it’s a more more efficient use of space, but then it’s impossible to change. That’s why you need slack at work; if your time is already filled to capacity you will not be able to deal with emerging issues, or (as Drucker points out, plan for the future).
By seeming to thriving under pressure you put pressure on your peer managers.
When an organisation is in drift and a leader takes the helm, there is relief.
Leadership is encouraging people to take short term pain for long term gain, because we all tend to be short term thinkers. Giving trust is a way to get trust.
However, he is not a fan of OKRs: he says management by objectives guides you to make tactical adjustments only, under the limitation that you don’t mess with current strategy, whatever it might be.
Being safe to fail means making explicit provision for lots of small but expensive failures along the way to big success.
You can’t count on all your risks paying off; you need to set aside time and money. The science of risk management guides you as to how much.
The explicit declaration of uncertainties allow you to manage a sensible risk reserve across the whole portfolio. Organisations can’t be aggressive about risk-taking without meaningful assessment of the extent of the uncertainties.
Without sensible risk management, organisations become risk averse.
This should be such that you have at least a 50/50 chance you’ll have enough to cover the risks that do materialise.
You may have to undertake activity that you won’t need if risks don’t materialise in order to be prepared for if they do.
You need the resources for transformational work, and you’ll never get them if you keep on doing non-transformational stuff.
The difference between the time it takes you to arrive at all prudent speed and breakneck speed is slack. Slack is what helps you arrive quickly but with an unbroken neck.
I enjoyed this book, and it’s a quick read with some good ideas. However, while it’s a good explanation of why you need slack, it’s light on actual suggestions for how to arrange your life to get it.
One resource I’ve found useful is this exercise, make time for the work that matters, but for practical suggestions for how to manage your working life with rigour and direction, my go-to book is still High Output Management.
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