Peter Drucker once said, “The greatest management job of all time was building the pyramids, and we’re just trying to live up to that standard ever since.”
That is true, except that the guy in charge of that project was actually at the pyramids, and wasn’t trying to flog people by email. There were no conference calls or webinars on the Giza site. Most of us don’t have that advantage.
We often bemoan how hard it is to manage remotely, so it helps on occasion to get some perspective. The pyramids weren’t managed remotely, but they could have been, with the right planning and tools.
Here are some similarities:
- The client thinks they’re God … literally. The pyramids were built as tombs for the Pharaohs, who were thought of as gods on earth. No pressure there. Okay, so nothing’s changed.
- If you think you have supply chain problems, imagine trying to get sandstone blocks delivered by UPS. There was no room for error. Specs and expectations needed to be exact. Nothing’s changed.
- Yes, people did the work, and it got done, but it took more effort to oversee them when they’re not willing participants. Are you generating buy-in and getting discretionary mindshare or managing to bare minimum standards? Also, remember that if the workforce would rather spend 40 years crossing the desert than continue to work for you, maybe you need to work on your engagement practices.
- Everything was clearly documented. Colorful pictures of eyeballs and stork-headed supervisors covering the walls had to be a lot more fun than spreadsheets, although, probably no less difficult to interpret without guidance. Still, it allowed us to go back thousands of years later and figure out what happened. Is your documentation thorough enough that people can understand how your team runs without an explanation from you or other teammates?
So, when you are complaining about all those conference calls, the barrage of email and the hours you’re putting in, remember: It could be worse.
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