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Managers as carpenters?

May 31, 2008

P1010013.JPGSteve Freeman pointed me to this blog on the difference between a fifty year old carpenter and a novice. Its a very good example of a safe-fail approach. As an enthusiastic amateur carpenter with a good track record I found it accurate. While constructing a fairly elaborate bookshelf (pictured) I was working from a rough sketch agreed with spouse and with the challenge of an arch. For those who understand this sort of thing you will know that arches are constructed by taking multiple thin slices from a piece of timber, steaming them for flexibility and then gluing them together in a frame. I made both sides in the same frame, cut and fitted them together.

In parallel the based unit was being constructed timber by timer, aligned in the main by eye (its an old house spirit levels are dangerous). The arch was then positioned, shelves and frames constructed as units and fitted around it. The final construct was similar to the sketch, but had accommodated to reality;which included knowledge that my method of arch construction would not deliver an exact measure. There is a strong analogy here with managing markets or people. You cannot know every thing in advance, but you can take an evolutionary approach. Of course that takes experience, and an ability to retain some idea of the broader objective. Managers as carpenters? Well its not a bad place to start out if you think of historical precedents ….

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