The Mobile of Excellent Management
By Craig A. Stevens, PMP, MBB
Phase 1 of the Linked Management Models
Building Excellent manage requires the seven attributes represented here by the “Mobile of Excellent Management.” A good place to start learning about excellent management is the adventure story and case study in book, Geronimo Stone, “His Music His Love, and the Mobile of Excellent Management.”
“Excellent Management” means being very good at the profession and practice of managing. It is something that requires a systemic, repeatable, and balanced approach to mastering seven essential attributes. These are more than just words; the attributes represent entire concepts embodied in the actions of:
- Growing Excellent Leaders,
- Building an Excellent Working Culture,
- Focusing on Excellent Customer Service,
- Building Excellent Teams of Empowered People,
- Mastering Skills, Problem Solving, and Core Competencies,
- Mastering Change and Continuously Improving Methods and Processes, and
- Driving Toward Excellence by Measuring Performance.
One of the best ways we found to help others understand and remember these attributes is to stress the balance of the attributes using an artist’s mobile. As a mobile requires perfect balance, so too, does Excellent Management within an organization or project. On a mobile, remove any one piece and the system is out of balance. Likewise, remove any one of these seven attributes within an organization and the management of the organization or project is out of balance. Also, as on a mobile, in an organization or project, no one attribute will work alone.
Understanding this mobile will help any organization to implement excellent management. Each of the seven attributes represents major concepts in management theory and process improvement. Chronological order is important. You therefore need to address the seven attributes in order (1-7, as listed above). Remember, balance is important and without any one of these attributes, excellence will be impossible.
How Might One Use the Mobile of Excellent Management?
The elements in the mobile are complex and their exact nature will vary from organization to organization. One of the best ways of creating a working mobile for your organization is by working right across the organization to create a collage of examples, metaphors and stories that you can use to communicate what each element within the mobile means at the moment and what you would like it to mean in the future.
You need everyone in the organization to understand the individual elements and the linkages between each of them in a way that allows them to translate the principles into practical behavior and relate them to their own work practices.
Where did the Westbrook Stevens Mobile of Excellent Management Come From?
When I studied for a PhD at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, one of my mentors was Dr. Jerry Westbrook, Director of the Engineering Management, Industrial, and Systems Engineering Department. The professors at UAH taught me many things about management principles, quality, Business Process Improvement, strategy, and Project Management. One of Dr. Westbrook’s concepts fired my lifelong interest in implementing organizational change. He researched the subject of Total Quality Management (TQM) and developed a systematic and repeatable definition for TQM. Before that time, TQM was very vague and a single definition was elusive. He suggested that everything ever written on TQM had one or more of six and only six attributes.
During my first dissertation “attempt,” I worked to validate Dr. Westbrook’s findings. Using a meta-analysis in a Design of Experiment type study, I reviewed hundreds of articles and books on TQM, management, and quality, and collaborated with several colleagues. (One Navy Officer kept politely suggesting we add leadership to the model (before that we embedded leadership was in culture.)
We asked the question, if “Excellent Management” requires the ability to influence others to achieve “excellent results,” then what would it take to achieve excellent management. During a workshop for the Department of Energy (1992), we started graphically representing these seven attributes using a mobile. By adding the leadership attribute and the metaphor of a mobile to Dr. Westbrook’s work, we could explain “Excellent Management” in a way that would be simple to explain and easier to implement.
Over the years, I have taught these concepts to many different organizations including governmental (DOD, DOE, NASA, DCS,); Universities (Vanderbilt, Belmont, Trevecca, University of Phoenix…) and commercial organizations, a bunch of conferences, and This became the subject of the first Geronimo Stone book that we published as an adventure business book (download a free eBook from www.geronimostone.com).