Crazy chess …

I was watching my 7 year-old son and his friend play chess at the weekend. Well, I say play chess, what they actually did was randomly spread the pieces across the board, take it in turns to randomly move them about, occasionally take an opponent’s piece and laugh a lot!

I was thinking to myself: ‘What are they doing – this doesn’t make any sense, you don’t play chess like that?’. I wanted to dive in and show them the right way to play it …

However, after a moment’s thought, I decided not to jump right in, and here’s why:

  • I’ve never seen anyone laugh or enjoy themselves quite so much while playing chess the right way
  • while I had no idea what was going on – they seemed to
  • they were relating to each other and communicating with one another their way and I couldn’t think of a single reason to impose my own narrow view of the game on them
  • I’ve always found chess to be unutterable dull – a game, if ever there was one, that could do with a rule revamp to make it more fun.

Truth is, a lot of social media stuff seems pretty non-sensical on first acquaintance – it’s full of people messing with the rules, mashing stuff up and doing it their way. It’s often only by watching for a while and then trying it yourself that you finally get it … just in time for the rules to change again.

As managers, we have a tendency to want things done the right way (aka our way) … we don’t like things happening around us we don’t understand and we definitely don’t like change.

It strikes me, that to be a successful 2.0 manager, you need to:

  • know when to sit and watch
  • know when to let things run their course and for how long
  • know when to intervene (or engage) and how to do that without alienating everyone
  • realise that management and control are not the same thing … relinquishing control can be a good management technique … and …
  • be humble enough to accept that there may be more than one way to get things done and our way might not suit everyone’s needs.


  1. Sounds more like coaching than managing (and I mean real sports coaching here – not consulting dressed up as “business coaching”).

    I do a lot of basketball coaching when not doing things E2.0 and you could easily apply those bullet points to sports coaching best practice.

    I’ve seen the management vs control point expressed as “Leadership and management are not the same thing” – management being essentially an admin/reporting function. It’s almost as if 2.0 manager is an oxymoron, those who follow your bullet points above may be seen as leaders, rather than managers!


  2. Jon – you’re absolutely right … in fact, we’ve had a number of internal messages being sent out around ‘less management and more leadership’ …

  3. your point “be humble enough to accept that there may be more than one way to get things done” is the one I found extremely difficult to adopt, when I first had staff responsibilitues some 15 years ago.

    Althougt not as difficult as “know when to intervene”,
    I now have a different approach at work and at home with kids

    At home, it is simple, I dont intervene, unless safety is an issue. Time is not money, ans most people (not sure about kids) learn from their mistakes,

    At work, not sure i will ever get that right !!!

  4. I enjoy the story. however, you are missing the point of cheese. it may be have some fun and spend time. but what about strategy and objectives?

    i mean, the kids had fun doing it their way. but sometimes, you cannot just do it your way cause you have objectives to pursue or a mission to respect and the rules, bureaucracy, and the directives or managers are there to make sure that happen.

    like everything in live, we must find balance.

  5. Thanks for the comment … of course, balance is everything in a corporate context … however, plenty of people believe that: ‘the rules, bureaucracy, and the directives or managers’ prevent things happening rather than make things happen.

    We need objectives but why can’t we be open-minded about how we achieve them?

  6. Lee – I’m not convinced that we need ‘different’ approaches between home life and work life … it’s just life … we all need to learn, experience different approaches, learn from mistakes, learn from those who have gone before us … we’re all just human-beings finding our feet and trying to get along as best we can in all the confusion!

  7. Thanks, I like the point about the difference between management and control, but in reality that takes a lot of confidence to pull off. Which brings in the value of experience I guess? Maybe self-empowerment if you want to get serious about it;-)

  8. Hello Richard!

    I wrote you an email on sharing expertise on Intranet.
    Did you receive an email from me?

    Thank you.
    Konstantin Maximuk

  9. Richard, I have four kids. They make up games and rules as a matter of course. We try to teach them to be creative. Of course, that doesn’t preclude the existence or necessity of rules (we have plenty of them at my house), it just means that rules can only take you so far. The best example of what I am saying was probably written by Rolf Smith in his book “The Seven Levels of Change.” Most people live and die in the realm of rules (Level 1, Effectiveness–Doing the right things; Level 2, Efficiency–Doing things right and occasionally Level 3, Improving–Doing things better). Too few people ever make it beyond those levels into the world of real change and innovation.

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