Category Archives: People and Team

How to manage, lead, motivate people, especially in a team?

Dean Lyons Leadership speech

As I mentioned in last post, today Monday August 17th is the Day One of the whole Orientation Week to our Berkeley Haas MBA 2011, the new first-year MBA students.

Our Dean, Rich Lyons, gave a great speech on Leadership.   If I remembered correctly, Dean Lyons mentioned a model originally from “What leaders really do” by John Kotter, HBR May 1990, 9 pages.  It said leadership is about three aspects:

Direction-setter, Alignment builder, and Motivator.

And they can be categorized as Strategic Leadership, Operational Leadership, and People Leadership.

Yeah, sounds a little bit academic, but a good way and framework to think about leadership.

Dean’s speech also covered other Haas characteristic/culture such as “Place, People, Culture”, “Confidence without attitude”, “Influence without authority” etc.

[Thinking] Delegate vs. Get Your Hands Dirty

I am attending the Summer Workshop provided by the Haas School of Business of UC Berkeley for our new incoming MBA students.  The workshop is ongoing, and one of the components, the Quantitative Method camp helped us review the very basic quantitative concepts in a business setting.

An interesting point was that from Day One, the instructor talked about that the importance for us is to understand the fundamentals, and the rationale behind, but not the mathematics tricks, because it is very likely in the future we, supposed to be the future managers, will delegate the work to someone else.

I understand and agree with the instructor, but here in this post I would like to extend my thoughts to a question:

Delegate vs. Get your hands dirty (GYHD), which is better?

It depends, I would say.

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[Thinking] Connecting the dots

After I posted my reply “How I became a Product Manager“, I got more questions from the reader:

Hello Freeman,

I did read the 2 blog posts and they are really a big HELP. Thank you.

There is one more thing I am curious about… As your roles changed all the way from R&D engineer to product engineer, are you staying in the same company, or, being focused on the same product? If not, I guess either of them can be a big change, right? Because that usually means you will have to start over – rebuild your professional network, and learn new technologies from the scratch. I am not saying this change is not good; it just feels like the years spent working as an R&D engineer is a waste of time and does not worth it. How did you deal with such a change back then?

Thanks again.

I did stayed in different companies and worked for different products. But the point is not being changing job or product.

Let me try to answer the questions. I do NOT think they are “big change”. I do NOT think I have to start it over. I do NOT think it means to “rebuild”, actually, I view it to “extend” my professional network. I do NOT think it is “learn… from scratch”. Instead I believe that most time my past experiences did help me now. I do not think “waste of time and not worth it” for your current R&D work.

The point is not the jobs themselves. The point is how you look at them, and whether you have got most from them.

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[Thinking] Motivate team by Big Picture

I received an email recently:

Hello Freeman,

I ran into your Chinese blog site when I was searching “Femtocell” over Internet. Currently I am a test engineer working on home networking gadgets like xDSL home gateway, etc. My current job is way too far from customers. We do not have to talk with our customers in person. Instead, we just hold the PRD (Product Requirement Document) and make sure if all of the requested features are working fine. Therefore, it’s not easy to get a deep understanding of the industry and marketplace. Actually I feel that I am kind of losing the big picture. That’s why I am always thinking to be a product manager. But I just have no idea where to start.

Now I think maybe I can learn something from you. How did you become a product manager? Transitioned from developer? And what is important to be a successful product manager (of course I have read the articles like “10 tips to be a good product manager”, I just want to know what you think from your own experience).

It will be great if you can take some time to read and reply this mail :-).

Thank you.

It is very interesting that I can see two major problems:

  • First, it is very normal for the author, as a R&D engineer, to have a feeling that “losing the big picture”, but the problem should be blamed on the management side. I do not think his or her manager is a good motivator.
  • Second, the author raised a very common question: How to move to Product Manager position?

In this blog entry, I tried to comment on the first problem:

Why to motivate team by big picture is important?

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