Comments: on Leadership - negotiating the RTFM into the realm of forgotten schoolyard jokes

in past life they sent my wife to executive training school (a couple times, level I executive, level II executive, etc; something typically found in large corporations).

they give Myers-Briggs personality tests and talked about different personality types frequently communicate differently and also frequently have different motivations and goals.

they also do things like break-up into teams and play games that involve win/win and win/loose strategies .... i.e. typically to learn about leaning towards win/win ... since it can provide best long term outcome.

however, my wife had her team play win/win up until the very last round ... and on the last round played win/loose. this nearly brought some grown men on the other team to tears complaining that she played unfair. part of the issue is that if it really is the last round ... it is possible to play win/loose and not worry about long term consequences. however, in real-life, there frequently is no definitive "conclusion", so playing win/loose (in real life) may result in long-term adverse consequences.

some people that are in the habit of playing win/loose ... may also be found to use cliches like "that is water under the bridge" ... in attempt to wipe the slate clean each time.

for even further drift there is always Boyd's talk on "Organic Design for Command and Control" ... where he eventually gets around to asserting that the preferred terms should be Leadership and Appreciation.

this is 1987 version

I had sponsored him at seminars in the early 80s and still have one of the original versions (hard copy) of the talk along with some number of subsequent versions as this particular talk evolved.

my past posts mentioning Boyd

and misc. URLs from the around the web about Boyd, OODA-loops and/or other Boyd-related topics

Posted by Lynn Wheeler at June 29, 2006 08:43 PM

I also did Myers-Briggs, found it interesting but not particularly useful. Yes, it tells you there are different people out there, but nothing much more. Possibly, as you suggest, we should have taken it further.

Negotiation games are good -- but I'd caution against playing them to win. It is a good exercise, and a shocker to some, but the game emotions can spill out into real life. Some people can be seriously effected by them, and carry the scars to outside game time. Otoh, some people need to also be taught that lesson, that there are no games in real life :) There is a game called diplomacy that brings this out.

Posted by Iang at June 30, 2006 07:01 AM

Unfortunately, the bonds of the social network are notoriusly difficult to escape. Most people (even known criminals) are very cooperative and honest within their established relationships. Outside of it, all bets are off.
People instinctively divide the rest of the world into "those, who matter" and those, who don't. It is not necessarily clear-cut and there may be a ranking, but when confronted with the choice, most people make up their minds pretty quickly.

"You don't matter" and "I don't trust you" go hand-in-hand and cannot be overcome by the effort of one of the sides.

In the anglo world (especially in the UK), selling recipes for fixing lives is a thriving business, but I have good reasons to think that there's much more to life than applying a few simple principles to every situation in which we find ourselves. I belive that negotiation skills (much like a lot of other skills) are best honed by regular practice. Being a "natural talent" in most cases just means enjoying doing something enough to practice it patiently.

Having said that, I do not particularly enjoy negotiations and therefore I am not particularly skilled in it. But recognizing the importance of improving one's negotiating skills is a good first step and Ian's musings on the subjects are very helful and thought-provoking.

Posted by Daniel A. Nagy at June 30, 2006 09:34 AM

Some of the same people who cried about defection in the final round of an iterated prisoners' dilemma would think nothing of calling a meeting as a diversion while yanking all access from people they are sacking, and then asking those people to leave the building w/in 15 minutes at the end of the meeting.

"It's not personal, it's business", eh?

The PD may be overused. Particularly in a team setting, there's an argument to be made that the Stag Hunt (for us political scientists, "Assurance Game" for the econ crowd) works better. Just a thought.

Posted by Chris Walsh at July 1, 2006 03:26 PM

re: On Leadership - negotiating the RTFM into the realm of forgotten schoolyard jokes

Boyd has this story when he was head of light-weight fighter design at the Pentagon ... redoing the F15 & F18 designs (among other things significantly reducing the planes weight) and coming up with the F16 design.

The 1-star he reported to was visiting the area one day and found Boyd and some number of lieutenants in heated debate about technical design issues. The 1-star called Boyd on the carpet for allowing an unprofessional atmosphere (i.e. lieutenants should never be allowed to disagree with their superior officers).

A meeting was called in one of the pentagon's auditoriums where the 1-star publicly fired Boyd for allowing the unprofessional atmosphere. A couple weeks later a 4-star called a meeting in the same place with the same audience and publicly rehired Boyd and rebuked the 1-star, telling him to never mess with fighter design area.

one of the tributes to Boyd:

Col. John R. Boyd, USAF (ret.) died in West Palm Beach Florida on Sunday, 9 March 1997.

The air force somewhat disowned him ... but at the end, he had been adopted by the Marines. His collected works are now at the Marine museum.

my collected past posts mentioning Boyd

other URLs from around the web mentioning Boyd, ooda-loops and/or other Boyd related subjects

Posted by Lynn Wheeler at July 2, 2006 02:21 PM

Dani -- on the development of negotiation skills. Yes, it takes a long time. Worse, for most people, what happens is that they get into it and learn the win-lose side more easily and the win-win side less well. So if anything, there is a grave danger of making matters worse.

On "gift" and practice. Yes, there are few of these. Especially in our world, as we all come with at least one other discipline already, and for our own professionalism, we're bursting to get back to to the code. Stop wasting this time trying to bring together people who'll never agree!

I think the change for me came when I realised that discipline-wise, there are reducing economies of scale. I mean, how many more system calls can you learn? And what is the point?

Also, at the same time, there is only so much code one person can write. One can do more with more people. For that, we need a team. And for that, we need ... leadership. It really sucks when you realise how much of your own expertise is now standing in the way of progress.

Posted by Iang at July 2, 2006 03:35 PM
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