June 16, 2012

Worm's-Eye View or Bird's-Eye View? Management by "Zooming"

From a HBR article on the need for managers to be able to both Zoom-in (be Detail Oriented) and also Zoom-out (be Big Picture guys).

Close-in managers look for immediate benefits and make ad hoc decisions. They often favor one-on-one conversations over group meetings. They want to address details by doing whatever occurs to them. Faced with a problem, they look for quick fixes rather than stand back to seek underlying causes, alternatives, or long-term solutions. They prefer to contact someone they know rather than search more widely for expertise. These tendencies are exacerbated in organizations that restrict information flow, reward quick hits, and confine people to their roles.

...The former CEO of Garanti Bank, Akin Ongor, led it from a middle-of-the-road bank in Turkey to global prominence by setting up processes that replaced poor performers and upgraded talent. When his announcement of layoffs provoked union protests and even death threats, Ongor refused to take the attacks personally or get drawn into ad hominem battles. Instead, he went to the media and elevated the discussion to the principles behind the bank’s actions. By zooming out, he helped his employees, the public, and government officials see the layoffs in the context of a transition in the economy and as a move that would save an important institution so that it could create more jobs in the future. The protests ended, and Ongor continued to lead successful change at the bank. Zooming out helps people see the map and stay focused on larger principles.

...The best leaders work the zoom button in both directions. Faced with a crisis, they can address the immediate situation while seeking structural solutions. They can zoom in to see problems while zooming out to look for similar situations, root causes, and principles or policies that will help prevent the crisis from recurring.

...Zooming can help leaders respond to events before they become crises. It can help them embrace new opportunities while continuing to operate with principles that build sustainable institutions for the long run. Leaders should make room to zoom.


Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs reach out effectively to the investing community.