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超人老板,可能吗?

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2018年02月09日

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One striking feature of the world of 1970s newspaper publishing, lovingly recreated by the film The Post , is the single-minded devotion of the Washington Post’s owner Katharine Graham to her family’s company and its flagship product.

电影《华盛顿邮报》(The Post)真实地再现了上世纪70年代新闻出版业的一个显著特征,那就是《华盛顿邮报》的老板凯瑟琳•格雷厄姆(Katharine Graham)对其家族企业及旗舰产品全心全意的付出。

Graham had other interests, and the film makes clear she cultivated a highly active social circle in the US capital. But the paper was her focal point.

格雷厄姆还有其他兴趣所在。影片也展示了,她在华盛顿打造了一个高度活跃的社交圈。但《华盛顿邮报》是她工作的焦点。

The news organisation’s current owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, wants to emulate the Graham era. According to the New York Times, he intends to host “salon-style dinners” at the house in Washington that he is renovating. But Mr Bezos’s peripatetic life is a stark contrast to Graham’s focus. He must juggle his ownership of the Post with the fortunes of Blue Origin, his space start-up, his philanthropic interests and the ever-expanding ambitions of Amazon. The complexity makes the linear world of 1970s business look as out of date as the report-type-print-repeat workdays of old-school newspaper journalists.

这家新闻机构如今归亚马逊(Amazon)创始人杰夫•贝索斯(Jeff Bezos)所有,而贝索斯想重现格雷厄姆的时代。据《纽约时报》(New York Times)报道,他打算在其位于华盛顿的正在翻新的宅子里举办“沙龙式晚宴”。但贝索斯到处奔波的生活方式与格雷厄姆的专注形成了鲜明的对比。他不得不在《华盛顿邮报》与自己一手创建的太空公司Blue Origin的命运、慈善事业、以及亚马逊不断扩大的野心之间做出权衡。这种复杂性令20世纪70年代的线性商业世界看起来就像老派新闻记者汇报选题-撰写文稿-印刷出版-周而复始一般过时。

Mr Bezos is not the only one stretched across multiple interests. Many entrepreneurs, executives and directors presume fulfilment can be found in the pursuit of a plural existence. I wonder how they do it.

贝索斯并不是唯一一个横跨多重利益关系的人。许多企业家、高管和董事都认为,可以通过身兼数职来获得成就感。我想知道这要怎样才能实现。

Plenty of authors and consultants are on hand to answer my question. In roughly descending order of usefulness come Morten Hansen’s research-based “do less, then obsess” mantra (which I wrote about here last month), and Dan Pink’s suggestion, in his book When , that we should synchronise our tasks with the most fertile parts of our working day: “If you have even modest control over your schedule, try to nudge your most important work . . . into the peak [period],” he counsels. Get more sleep is Arianna Huffington’s suggestion. The media entrepreneur told me last month she could trace all the mistakes she had made — mainly hiring the wrong people — “to being tired, to running on empty”.

很多作家和顾问都已经给出了答案。其中最实用的意见就是莫腾•汉森(Morten Hansen)基于研究提出的“精而专”的策略(上个月我在本专栏里写过)。其次是丹•平克(Dan Pink)在其所著《When》中给出的建议,即我们应该根据工作日中最高产的时间段安排任务:“但凡你对自己的日程安排能有些许控制,试着将你最重要的工作安排……到效率最高的时间段。”多睡一点是阿里安娜•赫芬顿(Arianna Huffington)的提议。上个月,这位传媒企业家告诉我,她可以将自己犯的所有错误——主要是所托非人——归咎为“太累了,身体要透支了”。

Meanwhile, others persist in wanting to stuff more into the same timetable. In his odd book Principles — part business bible, part autobiography — Ray Dalio, the hedge fund manager, suggests one key to doing more than we think we can is to “recognise that everyone has too much to do”. He writes that “creativity, character and wisdom” differentiate people who can do a lot from those who cannot.

与此同时,另一些人则坚持要把更多的事务塞进一张日程表里。在他的奇书《原则》(Principles)——一半是商业圣经,一半是自传——中,对冲基金经理雷•戴利奥(Ray Dalio)认为,做得比我们想象得更多的关键之一在于要“认识到每个人都有太多事情要做”。他写道,“创造力、个性与智慧”将能做很多事的人和做不到的人区分开来。

Personally, I doubt busy bosses have time to read these tips. One director I know has two secretaries, who prepare a colour-coded printout of her electronic diary, which they index by location and function into paper folders filled with briefing sheets.

在我看来,那些忙碌的老板们恐怕无暇阅读这些建议。我认识的一位董事有两名秘书。她的电子日程表被这两名秘书用色彩标注后打印成册,按位置和功能索引分放到装满简报的纸质文件夹中。

In any case, the problem with time management advice is that not all businesspeople have control of their schedule and few are born prioritisers. This is why their overseers have to resort to other tools.

无论如何,时间管理建议的问题在于,并不是所有商界人士都能控制自己的日程,而且很少有人生来就会区分轻重缓急。这就是为什么他们的监督者们不得不求助于其他工具的原因。

Lately, for example, investors and governance advisers have started to red-flag directors’ “overboarding”. The nautical echo is accidental, though appropriate. It refers to the fear that directors with mandates at multiple companies will drown in the paperwork board membership now entails, perhaps dragging down others.

例如,最近,投资者和管理顾问们开始对董事“在过多公司挂职”发出警告。这种情况是偶然的,即使并无不妥。这反映出了一种担忧,即在多家公司担任董事会被淹没在董事会的海量文书中,也许也会把其他人拖下水。

ISS, the proxy adviser, suggests investors withhold votes from directors who sit on more than five public company boards. In the UK, holding three or more chairmanships puts a target on the back of any chair.

代理顾问公司ISS建议投资者们不要让在五个以上上市公司董事会任职的董事参与投票。在英国,在三个或以上公司担任董事会主席,会让自己每一个位置都沦为靶子。

These are blunt instruments. ISS has a rule of thumb that one chair position equals two non-executive roles, for instance. But unexpected events — a takeover, a disaster, or the unexpected loss of a chief executive — can turn a straightforward part-time position into a demanding full-time job.

这些手段都很生硬。例如,ISS有一条经验法则,即一个主席职位相当于两个非执行董事。但一些突发事件——如收购、灾难、或意外失去一位首席执行官——可能把一项简单的兼职工作变成一份要求很高的全职工作。

Successful businesspeople may have more than “modest control of their schedule”. They appoint lieutenants to run the major operations of their businesses — as Mr Bezos has at Amazon. Some, like my director friend, have the money to employ multiple assistants, the patience to handle a complex calendar and the upper body strength to carry around what is in effect a mobile filing cabinet, to meet the demands of a plural portfolio.

成功商人对自己的日程安排也许不只是“些许控制”。他们指派副手去经营主要业务——就像亚马逊的贝索斯那样。有些人,比如我那位董事朋友,有钱雇用多个助理,有耐心去应付复杂的日程,还有惊人的臂力随身带着一个移动文件柜,以满足身兼数职的需要。

But who really knows how close they are to being overwhelmed? To assess how good people are at managing their time and maintaining focus without distraction requires the assessors to have unlikely telepathic powers.

但谁又真的知道这些人是否频临崩溃呢?要评估人们有多擅长管理自身时间及保持专注,要求评审者拥有不现实的心灵感应能力。

In the 1950s, before the corporate fitness drive, it was similarly assumed that business leaders were superior physical specimens. Doctors opined that they would not have risen to the top if they did not enjoy above-average health. Then CEOs started dropping dead from strokes and heart attacks.

上世纪50年代,企业健身浪潮尚未兴起,人们同样以为商界领袖都有过人的身体素质。医生们认为,如果这些人的健康没有高于常人,就不可能达到事业上的巅峰。随后,首席执行官死于中风和心脏病发作事件开始频现。

The wise, prioritising superhumans Mr Dalio applauds are a rarity. His principle that everyone has too much to do should be read by overstretched titans and overboarded directors as a warning, rather than a consolation.

戴利奥称赞的那些睿智、拎得清轻重缓急的超人实属罕见。他所说的每个人都有太多事情要做,应该被那些超负荷工作的企业领导人和在过多公司任职的董事们解读为一种警告,而不是一种安慰。
 


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