I love the “One Minute” series by Blanchard and Oncken. I recently received “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey” as a holiday gift from my boss. As I barreled through the thin tome while reviewing applications for our business incubator, I kept envisioning entrepreneurs walking around carrying far too many monkeys. The Reader’s Digest condensed version of this “One Minute” book is this—unsuccessful managers (and entrepreneurs) own too many monkeys—problems and challenges that don’t belong only to us. Blanchard, Oncken, and Burrows state early in the book “For every monkey there are two parties involved—one to work it and one to supervise it.” One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is identifying local or regional resources or service providers to “work their monkeys.”
Oncken et al describe four rules of monkey management: 1) describe the monkey, 2) assign the monkey, 3) insure the monkey, and 4) check on the monkey. All entrepreneurs should begin reviewing their projects or problems and thinking about the next step or action item (the monkey). Once you describe/define the needed action, you can decide who owns the monkey. If it’s you—act! If you don’t have all the necessary resources to “own the monkey,” consult your local Small Business Development Center, University, economic development group, or SourceLink to identify the right “caregivers” for these monkeys. In order move projects forward—and rid yourself of monkeys—entrepreneurs need to connect to local entrepreneur networks to gain access to valuable services and expertise (who would likely welcome the opportunity to carry your monkeys).
Be thoughtful when assigning monkeys—you must insure them. Oncken et al recommend two basic types of insurance policies: 1) Recommend, then act and 2) Act, then advise. When beginning a relationship with a consultant or service provider, entrepreneurs should be extremely involved—offering recommendations for actions and seeking guidance. As the relationship grows and trust/commitment is nurtured, the entrepreneur can move to level two insurance policies—allowing the consultant/partner to act and advising when course corrections are needed.
The entrepreneur must also schedule monkey check-ups after the project is assigned. This insures a timeline for discovering and correcting problems. As Oncken et al state, proper follow-up means healthier monkeys.
The greatest value accrued from ridding yourself of monkeys—is more discretionary time. This is the “golden time” all entrepreneurs seek in which you can do the things that make your work truly rewarding over and above financial compensation—things such as creating, innovating, leading, planning, and organizing… activities are vital to business growth and progress.
This article includes a summary of, my clumsy application of the “monkey management” principles to entrepreneurs, and excerpts from Blanchard, KH; Oncken, Jr. W.; and Burrows, H (1989). The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. New York: Harper.
Content contributed by Denise Ehlen, State of Ingenuity SourceLink (Wisconsin/Illinois).
State of Ingenuity SourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S. SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.