WHAT is Russian management? For more than 22 years now, I’ve written close to two thousand management articles, some of which are about the contrasting styles of American and Japanese management. This is the first time that I will talk (although lightly) about Russian management, which is more difficult to understand.
In some ways, Russian managers are like Japanese managers. They are both strictly hierarchical. Russians prefer to interact with people who are their equals in corporate rank and societal stature. They like to listen to detailed, long-winding presentations that explain the history of a subject, even the etymology of some words. Many times, they don’t believe in win-win propositions because they see them as signs of weakness.
This can be seen in the case of Ukraine.
I’m explaining Russian management in brief contrary to the belief of some office clowns that Russian management is all about “rush-yan” or completing a certain task without careful planning regardless of more important, strategic things to do simply because the top clown needs it pronto.
My task here is to educate you on how to prevent rush-yan mentality. This means you have to read volumes of management bestsellers, complete graduate school, attend public seminars, read this column, and use all valuable lessons, which you cannot simply pick up from any local supermarket.
Well, maybe you can, but it’s not fresh because they’re done with a hint of Chinese management.
Anyway, looking at your particular situation, I could imagine tons of hard documents in your cubicle, if not on your computer screen. You know how people traditionally demonstrate how busy they are for eight hours. But at the end of each day, look at the result and you will be surprised why they still remain on the payroll.
Are they working hard or smart? Of course, there is no substitute for hard work – at least that’s according to Thomas Alva Edison. This quotation definitely touched the nerve of reader Johnny Castro (not his real name) who appears (based on the tone of his email) like he has bought all Armani™ suits from Rustan’s.
I myself like Armani™ and although I can’t afford it, at least I’ll be acting like a professional model wearing it, even if my business suit appears to be the same material they use to adorn curtains and mattresses, minus the tag on the lapel that says that it could not be removed under penalty of law.
Johnny used Edison’s quote to quiz me: “How can a busy person do so much in one day?” Trust me. It was an intelligent question from a bank vice president. You know why? Because bankers like to boast to their friends that they sent me an email.
Seriously, I was trying to decipher Johnny’s question when 4Ds came popping out of my head. In “Leadership-Driven HR” (2013), author David Weiss talks about 4Ds (delete, delay, distribute, diminish) and how it is applied by an unnamed major financial institution “to lighten up their work to ensure they could focus on their new strategic priorities.” Weiss describes 4Ds as follows:
First is to delete. This means canceling a project, process, or any task because it does not fit the company’s overall strategic objectives.
Second is to delay. This is all about classifying a task as low priority in favor of more valuable things that is guaranteed to provide higher revenue.
Third is to distribute. What are the things that can be done outside of HR or other departments? It could mean outsourcing a task to an external service provider or asking other departments to do it.
Lastly is to diminish. This means simplifying policies and procedures to make it easy for people to understand and perform them.
How can you argue against common sense? Let’s face it. Common sense is uncommon, even to management people or even to those with intimidating letters after their names. This is why people like Johnny are willing to openly discuss their concerns with a columnist who is allegedly respected by the business community.
At least, that’s what Johnny told me in his closing email, in his apparent bid to be recognized. So I figured the least I could do for Johnny was to answer his question, which involves two major responsibilities on my part: keep track of the latest management trends via the Harvard Business Review and twist it lightly so that they can be properly understood and applied in the local setting.
Rey Elbo is a business consultant trying his hand in humor writing. Send feedback to email@example.com or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts on Elbonomics.