Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Swiss Army Knife - Management Lessons - The Knife

The Swiss Army Knife is just that - a knife. It is a knife bundled up with extra components that make it indispensable.

knife: noun - 1. An instrument for cutting, consisting essentially of a thin, sharp-edged, metal blade fitted with a handle; 2. A cutting edge; a blade.
verb (used with object) - to apply a knife to; cut, stab, etc., with a knife . (Dictionary.com)

A knife has one primary purpose - and that is to cut. There are any different types of knife available to people. Many different knives serve many different purposes but not all knives are suitable for all situations. The size of the knife determines where and when it can be used.

Example - you wouldn't use a slasher (long blade) to remove a splinter. Nor would you use a butter knife to blaze a trail through think underbrush.

The Swiss Army Knife (SAK) is a fantastic knife (with a small and appropriate sized blade)because of it's adaptability. It isn't threatening in it's size but it can punch above it's weight when required to. The SAK could remove a splinter or alternatively it can be used to separate and cut through vines, ropes and leather boots.

What lessons can we draw from the SAK knife blade?

  • The knife blade is usually the first item people look at and pay the most attention to. Work on developing a stand out skill or function that people can see from the start and makes others sit up and take notice of you.
  • A knife needs care and attention paid to it to ensure it retains it's edge and it's function. The same is true for the manager. Managerial skills must be kept oiled and sharp.
  • Don't overstate or make too much noise about your skills. When the time comes you apply your skills in an appropriate form and size which is determined by the task at hand.
  • Try to make sure your particular area of focused skill is appropriate to the rest of your abilities.
  • Blunt knives (as well as skills) are highly dangerous and ought to be avoided or fixed as quickly as possible.

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