Heuristic: an approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method, not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, logical, or rational, but instead sufficient for reaching an immediate goal.
Why start the book here?
Easy - success in the hard sciences requires exact formulas that are tight and always apply. In the soft sciences there are no exact formulas, rather heuristics; general rules that apply most of the time and reduce complexity. As a business scientist, consultant & coach, and business owner, it is my experience there are several general rules that cover the majority of situations. The idea of creating a self-managing organization is a great place to start.
This is the basis of the book Owner as Executive. It is a mixture of research into effective business operations and the practical experience of building profitable companies. I cannot identify the exact catalyst for the book; was it years of consulting in large and small businesses, working with some great owners and consultants, or reading the best and brightest? However, a few stick out: Peter Drucker, Elliot Carlisle, Henry Mintzberg, Vicktor Frankl, and Nassim Taleb. We will drill down on these later in my Rogues Gallery.
Starting with Peter Drucker and his seminal series on Management and the “Effective Executive”, my reference book for C Suite consulting. While working with the Ken Blanchard Companies, I was exposed to Elliot Carlisle the originator of the One Minute Manager concept. His short 13 page article in Harvard Business Review sits dogeared on my desk 25 years later. The last of the old guard is Henry Mintzberg, who, like Drucker, produced a powerful body of work. The one that was my consulting companion to Drucker’s “Effective Executive” was the “Nature of Managerial Work”. These three thought leaders helped me help clients build more effective organizations. The difference between Mintzberg and Drucker is simple, Drucker and Carlisle wrote from their experience as consultants while Mintzberg is the researcher's researcher. Together they provide a powerful analysis and road map for making the transition from Owner to Executive.
Vicktor Frankl expanded my universe on the true goal of human behavior. His “Man's Search for Meaning” speaks to the essence of life, how it's experienced and showing an individual with a purpose can survive anything. Think about his experience as a psychiatrist condemned to a concentration camp because of his heritage and not a crime. He was able to detach himself and become a third party observer to 5 years in various camps.
The last member of this gaggle is Nassim Taleb and his concept of risk. He brought an out-of-the-profession view that forced a reexamination of my approach to business - mine and clients. “Antifragile” and “Skin In The Game” speak to a new game of executive thinking and are the only two business books on my Kindle device.
Now for the idea, a sum total of these great thinkers. Could a business be built, organized, and developed from the beginning to become a Self-Managing Organization?
Before you answer, think about successful franchises. What is the core element of any franchising package? It is how well all of the elements in the package allows the business to manage itself until the owner gains experience and develops their own approach. By definition all successful franchising packages are self-managing.