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Cute rules, dumb strategies

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

by Morey Stettner

Almost every management guru has a cute, catchy rule of thumb. But despite all the easy-to-remember gimmicks, the majority of these tools are downright silly.

What’s astounding is how otherwise smart people succumb to dishing out lame advice. Consider Suzy Welch. The former editor-in-chief of Harvard Business Review, she’s the author of the new book 10-10-10.

While prominent folks laud the book (historian Doris Kearns Goodwin calls it “a triumph”), I have my qualms. Welch’s premise: When you face a tough decision, ask yourself how your choice will affect your life in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years.

That sounds great in theory. But how can you possibly know the consequences of a choice over the long term? If you’re inclined to go ahead and take a risk, you’ll probably inflate the positive repercussions and downplay the negatives.

Another rule that seems impressive at first glance is Stephen Covey’s 90/10 Principle: 90 percent of life is dictated by how you react; 10 percent consists of what happens to you.

Covey has a point: You cannot control events, but you can control your reaction. It’s a wise observation that you’ve surely heard thousands of times.

But this 90/10 ratio strikes me as wildly random. Perhaps 30 or 50 or 70 percent of life involves what happens to you. Covey’s construct seems facile and designed to oversimplify rather than enlighten.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. After all, I’ve written some management books and devised catchy rules of my own that readers tell me they love.

But I urge you to look past the hokey acronyms (TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More!) and examine the underlying point.

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