I was talking with somebody yesterday, a man I respect, who was disappointed with his management (not my company, by the way) because he’d been told he was taking "too much ownership."
I laughed. I thought that was a joke. How can too much ownership be bad?
"No, really," he said. "I make decisions on my own. I give people freebies." His upper management doesn’t like that. I don’t get it. In seminars I talk about how good planning process generates ownership. To me, having managers "own" their areas is the only way to grow a company.
What?! Do you want to have every micromanaged manager in the company coming to you all the time, asking you to validate every decision? That’s just plain crazy.
My experience was that Palo Alto Software grew by having other people take over and own parts of the business that I had done originally. Product development, documentation, and (what a relief!) marketing, and accounting, tech support; one by one we found people to own these areas.
I assume as you read this you’re thinking something like "well yes, of course, and everybody knows that … why waste my time with it?" However, this story I heard yesterday was a reminder. People forget those fundamentals that "everybody knows." Do they get jealous of good managers.
The person accused of "too much ownership" had more than doubled his group’s revenue in two years. But, apparently, he wasn’t checking in often enough with his superiors. What ever happened to "just do it?" I also liked the image of a bunch of mice, each finding a place to eat on the cheese.
Am I wrong on this? Is it possible for a manager to have "too much ownership?"