My wife and I are in the midst of a long cruise, and I’m reminded of the last extended vacation we took. I work in an industry where people tend to drive pretty hard, and I certainly fit that mold. A few years ago we took a two-week vacation to Greece, and when a crisis communications task came up, I found myself sitting beside the pool in Crete on a conference call to deal with it. Even though in principle I was supposed to be off the clock and out of touch.
This trip is different in that I’m able truly to put aside those other concerns. Since I’ve left VeriSign/Symantec but haven’t landed at my next company, it’s been fairly easy to let people know that I’m going to have a few weeks of down time. They’ll wait.
Comparing the two trips, it’s interesting to notice that I’m not significantly more relaxed this trip than I was on that other one. Yes, I had to keep an eye on e-mail. And yes, something came up that forced me to break vacation mode and deal with it. And yes, the people at the poolside bar gave me a hard time when the call was over for doing work while I was supposed to be getting away from it all.
But in reality is was no great hardship, and the reason is James Bond Management. I had a strong set of James Bond employees in place at VeriSign at the time and had James Bond relationships with most of my peers in the cross-functional team. As a result I felt I could have faith in the fact that they would be independent, would exercise good judgment, and could execute on their objectives. That means the call in question was an efficient, high level conversation. I was given the facts and could rely on their accuracy. We discussed options, with ideas coming from all sides. We mutually agreed to an execution strategy and assigned ownership. I had a high degree of confidence that the individuals who signed up for tasks would deliver on them or would let me know if they couldn’t. Then we signed off.
How wonderful is that? I compare that to managers I’ve seen (or had) in the past who can’t trust and can’t delegate. One of those managers in that situation would have been stuck on multiple calls and would have been logging into e-mail and dealing with lots of issues to manage an unforeseen business challenge. I, on the other hand, got to enjoy my time off and still have an excellent resolution to the issue. And I could really relax, knowing that James Bond was there to take care of me. I don’t see how a manipulator of what I call hand puppets could feel the same way.