匀我点儿氧气吧,求你了! / Pass the Oxygen, Please

匀我点儿氧气吧,求你了!

看到这个题目,北京的读者可能会以为这篇博客是关于空气污染的,但事实并非如此。不过你们这么想也情有可原。

其实,这篇博客是关于管理而不是呼吸的。尽管二者之间有些关联,但却是两回事。

可以肯定的是,就算我们不管理,呼吸也不成问题;但想要实施有效的管理,不呼吸却是万万行不通的。

我非常喜欢阅读吉姆•柯林斯与莫顿•汉森合著的新作《选择卓越》(Great by Choice),这本书和柯林斯的其他重要著作一样,都以海量数据和多年分析为基础,极具说服力。

书中对知名公司与偏离了成功轨道的企业做了比照研究,通过多张图表阐释了它们之间的不同之处。

但是这本书最打动我的地方却是那些活生生的案例,它们充分阐述了卓越的领袖与一般老板在态度和行为上的区别。

想想哪种信息更容易让人吸收和记忆其实也挺有意思,因为并非所有的信息在这方面都是平等的。真正值得记忆的东西才会让人吸收转化为自己的东西,在脑子里活起来,并对一个人的思维模式产生长期的影响,就好比种子生根发芽一样。这种学习有助于调节判断能力和分析能力,它对行为的影响完全不同于死记硬背。

故事讲得好可以直入脑海,附着力比示意图、图表、方程式、流程图或数据表都强。好故事——特别是真实的好故事——是作家或演说家传达思想最有力的工具。柯林斯在故事选择和表述上就非常出色。

他的新书中有这样一个故事,是关于氧气罐的。其中讲到有两支登山队同时准备攀登珠穆朗玛峰。

其中一队的领队按最佳情况计划,只携带了仅够一次登顶的氧气罐。那种罐装氧气不仅又贵又重,运送上山也十分困难。

而另一队的领队则按最坏情况打算,考虑了可能发生的意外,带了足够2、3次登顶用的氧气,以防因天气恶劣耽搁了行程或者遇到其他不可预见的挫折。

结果,一位领队因为未雨绸缪挽救了队员的生命,而另一队却陷入险境,有人还因此丢了性命。

两位领队都是登山老手,但他们对风险的管理方式以及在类似情况下的相关准备却各有不同。

这个故事的寓意当然是领袖应作好最坏的准备,确保手中有足够的资源应付意外的挫折,包括所谓的“黑天鹅事件”在内。(发现黑天鹅之前,人们普遍认为天鹅都是白的。而第一只黑天鹅的出现颠覆了人们的信念。黑天鹅事件意指不可预测的、能改变一切的重大偶发事件——译注)

领袖最严重的失误莫过于想当然地以为一切都会按计划进行。优秀的领袖都知道自然无法预测,黑天鹅事件发生的时间也无法预测,但他们总是会做好准备,掌握适当的资源。

读完这个故事以后,我发现我已经开始思考,自己手里有没有足够的氧气罐。

当我眺望窗外,视线穿过北京CBD浓重的雾霭时,这个问题似乎又多了另一层含义。

Pass the Oxygen, Please

Readers of the above headline who are in Beijing may be forgiven for thinking this post is about air pollution. It’s not.

Actually, it is about managing, rather than breathing. Although somehow related, they are different.

For one thing, we can breathe OK even when we’re not managing; but we generally cannot manage effectively unless we’re also breathing.

I enjoyed reading “Great by Choice”, the latest book by Jim Collins, and his co-author Morten T. Hansen. Like all of Collins’ major books, it is based upon a sea of data and years of analysis, which makes it persuasive.

There are also many charts illustrating the differences between the great companies they studied, and the comparison companies which strayed from the path of success over time.

The learning that sticks with me most vividly from this book, however, is embedded in the real life stories which illustrate the attitudes and behavior of the great leaders as compared to the not-so-great ones.

It’s interesting to consider which types of information people tend to digest and retain. In this respect, not all information is created equally. The really memorable stuff gets digested, and then internalized. It comes to life within your brain, and has an ongoing impact on the way you think, like a seed which has sprouted. This kind of learning helps you fine tune your judgment and navigation skills. The impact of such learning on behavior is very different from, for example, learning by rote memorization of data.

A well-told story travels unimpeded into our brains, with far more sticking power than charts, graphs, equations, flow charts or spreadsheets. A good story — especially if it’s true — is the best ambassador a writer or speaker can employ. And Collins selects and tells his stories exceptionally well.

One such story from his new book involves oxygen canisters. There were two teams of climbers planning an ascent of Mt. Everest around the same dates.

One leader assumed the best case scenario, and brought only enough oxygen canisters for one ascent. Bottled oxygen is expensive, weighs a lot, and is challenging to transport up a high mountain.

The other leader assumed a worse case scenario and planned for unexpected eventualities. His group packed enough oxygen canisters for 2 to 3 ascents, just in case they were delayed by bad weather or encountered other unforeseen setbacks.

As it turned out, the comprehensive plan of one leader saved his group’s lives, whereas the other group was struck by disaster and experienced a tragic loss of lives.

Both sets of leaders were very experienced mountaineers, so the main difference was their respective approach to risk management and related preparations in similar circumstances.

The moral of the story is of course that leaders need to plan for the worst case, and ensure they have the resources on hand to cope with unexpected setbacks, including so-called “black swan” events.

The worst thing a leader can do is to blithely assume that everything will go according to plan. The best leaders know that they cannot anticipate the nature or timing of black swan events, but they must always be prepared for them by having adequate resources on hand.

After reading this story, I found myself thinking about whether or not we have an adequate supply of oxygen canisters on hand.

As I looked out the window, through the thick smog in Beijing’s CBD, this question seemed to assume an additional level of relevance.


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匀我点儿氧气吧,求你了! / Pass the Oxygen, Please》上有 35 条评论

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