Bill Brown is the Founder and Product Manager at Secutor Solutions. In this episode we discuss how and why managers need improved leadership skills to empower teams, and the use of lessons-learned systems for improving organizational performance.
Bill was commissioned in the Marine Corps after graduating from the US Naval Academy in 1993. He spent 7 years in the Marine Corps as a platoon commander and intelligence officer before entering the civilian world in 2000. Since that time he has worked primarily as a program and product manager in the software development discipline. Bill has had the opportunity to work in a variety of industries, including Knowledge Management, Insurance, Healthcare, Aerospace and Defense. Working across these industries as both an employee and consultant with over 14 companies has allowed him to observe and interact with many leadership teams and operate within a variety of business processes. Through this experience he has had the opportunity to lead amazing teams that built, launched and supported 5 different products. Bill is currently the founder and product manager at Secutor Solutions whose specialty is engaging technology with their Lessons Learned Database to bridge the gap between the areas of project management, operations management and knowledge management to drive higher rates of business success and greater organizational resilience.
It can be fun to envision the optimal solution and create the path to implementation. This requires picking the right team, the right platform and developing the right sequence of events and executing on the vision to achieve it in an efficient manner. The real fun comes in when the plan has to change to accommodate the external drivers that necessitate change.
The world and business is very complex and planning is key towards developing repeatable processes and consistent results, but the value is in planning, not necessarily the plan. The plan will need to change because as Bill says, “No plan survives first contact with implementation.” Therefore leaders need to be prepared to adapt and be flexible and adjust operations as they execute on their plan. Inflexible leaders and managers will likely experience problems.
Engagement and Integration are important and technology solutions have to be integrated into workflow to make them a normal part of work. Engagement means creating a value in the system that draws people in and engages them to use the system. A lot of application sit on the shelf and collect dust because people don’t feel connected to them. Workers have to feel connected with a system in order to use it effectively. You can make the use of applications more fun if you try. Integration is about taking the core knowledge we capture with a system and infusing it into widespread tools that are already in use, like email and project planning tools. Information has to be recorded, fed-forward and integrated into planning processes to help improve organizational learning. If this is done well, leaders, teams and workers can capture, collect and use information to help mitigate business and other risks by learning from the lessons others have already experienced in the past.
A lot of managers who get promoted up into high-level management positions lack leadership skills. There is a lot more to leadership than being a “taskmaster.” Leading, Teaching, Coaching and Counseling are some of the big leadership skills necessary for managers to advance and become better leaders who can really lead their teams to greatness.
It is a fundamental failure to simply come up with arbitrary goals without thinking through them. Stretch goals are important, but a dose of reality must be injected to find out what is actually possible. Micro-managing can be detrimental to performance. From an organizational resilience perspective managers have to be trained to think more broadly to be great leaders.
Managers and leaders can’t have a zero defect mentality because workers and organizations have to make mistakes and learn. However, there are ways to find a path for workers so they can fail and learn along the way without having a major negative impact on the organization. Managers have to train and coach team members rather than jumping in and doing things themselves. Otherwise team members won’t learn as effectively and this may inhibit organizational performance.
Managers need to be more than taskmasters or clock-watchers. They can’t just watch the output. They have to be more involved in the process and have to be more involved with their teams. They have to use the mantra “Lead, Teach, Coach and Counsel” to actually manager their people in a more comprehensive manner. Corporate leaders have to recognize the importance of these skills.
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Time-Stamped Show Notes
· 0:34-Randy introduces Bill Brown and describes who he is, including reading his formal biography.
· 2:30- Randy asks Bill, “Okay, we’ve heard your formal bio, but tell us what makes you tick, what motivates you, what inspires you, or generally why you do what you do?”
· 4:00-Randy quotes Eisenhower, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.” Randy and Bill get into a discussion on plans, how planning can create a thought process towards achieving a goal and that plans must be flexible. Bill describes the need to adapt.
· 5:55-Bill states, “No plan survives first contact with implementation.” Because so many factors arise, especially on long-term projects and leaders must be adaptable. Don’t fall in love with your plan because it is going to change.
· 6:34-Randy asks Bill what got him interested in his current work.
· 7:25 Randy asks Bill about his current company or role and Bill describes the foundations of Secutor Solutions and how his company evolved into creating a Lessons-Learned database to help organizations continually improve.
· 8:15-Randy asks Bill about some of the projects he’s currently working on right now and Bill describes taking the Lessons-Learned concept to the next level by leveraging solutions and incorporating them into people’s workflow.
· 11:26-Randy describes Crew Resource Management training and the benefits.
· 12:42-Randy asks Bill, “What was the biggest moment in your career where you had an “aha moment” about leadership, organizational resilience, reliability, safety, or a similar area?”
· 14:10-Randy describes how many industries struggle with developing and using a solid debriefing process after work is completed and capturing those lessons in lessons-learned systems. This creates fractured learning.
· 15:00-Randy asks Bill, “What area in leadership, organizational development, or industry do you think needs disruption and why?”
· 16:13-Bill describes the important skills needed by managers as they advance in their careers and these are, “Leading, Teaching, Coaching and Counseling.”
· 19:08-Randy describes how managers need to take the sometimes counter-intuitive step of releasing a bit of control to the experts on their teams. Team members must be empowered in order to accomplish organizational goals effectively and efficiently.
· 21:07-Randy asks Bill, “If you could be granted one wish for leadership or organizational change/development what would it be?”
· 24:18-Randy mentions the challenge of major transformational change as compared to shorter-term project implementation.
Book Recommendation: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t by Jim Collins.