Modern Management Made Easy Principles—Again

Several weeks ago, I posted my innovation principles, based on Modern Management Made Easy, book 3. I developed them because I was discovering the user journey through the book. I needed a way to link the ideas together.

Of course, I also created principles for managing yourself (Book 1) and for leading and serving others (Book 2).

Of course, I did. (Face-palm.)

7 principles for each book. 21 principles in all. Some of them overlapped. Some did not.


People can't possibly remember 21 principles. Especially not when some overlap and some are different. (21 principles? 17? 9? Make up your mind, Johanna.)

Now that I'm integrating all the tech review for Book 3, I realize I can simplify all these principles. I can have common principles for all three books. The books need to explain the small differences  in how you apply the principles based on your context, but I think I have the principles now:

  1. Clarify purpose. (For you, the team and the organization.)
  2. Build empathy with the people who do the work.
  3. Build a safe environment. (So people can trust you, their colleagues, and the organization as a whole.)
  4. Seek outcomes by optimizing for a greater goal. 
  5. Encourage experiments and learning.
  6. Catch people succeeding.
  7. Exercise your value-based integrity as a model for the people you lead and serve.

There's more to each of these, especially in each context (manage yourself; lead and serve others; lead an innovative organization). And, I hope I got the principles right.

Missing Principles?

You might notice that communication and transparency aren't part of this list. That's for these reasons:

  • If you use safety and empathy, you'll communicate.
  • If you use safety and optimize for a greater goal, you'll get transparency.
  • If you encourage experiments and learning and catch people succeeding, you'll get a ton of communication and transparency.

As of right now, communication and transparency are outcomes of using the seven principles.

What do you think? Should I be more explicit about communication and transparency? Please let me know.

Let me go meta for a minute about the writing.

Writing Words is a Lot Like Writing Code (for Me)

I realized all this when I was thinking about what I wrote and how my writing process works.

Back when I wrote code, I loved the idea of creating something new, that hadn't been out in the world before, that solved a problem. And, I rarely knew exactly how the design would work in practice.

Back then, I was supposed to design the whole product, implement across the architecture, and then test. I tried. I really did.

It worked about as well as you'd expect. (It didn't work for me at all.)

Even back when I was a programmer, I would implement one feature/one feature set at a time. I thought I was too stupid to figure all of it out in advance.

No, I was just human.

And, while I didn't know about refactoring at the time, I often measured my lines of code. I knew that when I simplified the code, I decreased the number of lines of code. If I didn't “lose” about 20-30% of all the code at the end of the project from the peak number, I knew I wasn't simplifying enough.

(I do not recommend you measure LOC. Do NOT! It was a signal for me at the time.)

When I simplified the writing in these books, it felt like refactoring to me:

  • I simplified the ideas and the words.
  • I made the ideas more meaningful.
  • These new principles are a “new interface” to how the readers can read all three books.

Now, after all my face-palming, I'm pretty happy.

What Do You Think About the Principles?

I'm still integrating the tech review comments. And, I have more work to do to clarify how the principles work in each of the various contexts (managing yourself, leading and serving others, and leading the organization. That's okay.

I feel much more strongly about getting the books right than getting them out fast.

And, if you have comments about my principles, I'm still editing. Do let me know. Thanks!

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