Management Secrets From the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health President

by drjim on May 6, 2010

Tachi Yamada Is The President Of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program

Tachi Yamada Is The President Of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program

Is it possible that the challenge of managing a team of IT professionals could have anything in common with the challenge of curing global illnesses? Good management is something that we can always learn from and healthcare has a lot of similarities with IT: it uses highly trained workers, it’s always experiencing lots of changes, and technology plays a key role in every part of how it’s done. Tachi Yamada is not only a doctor, but he is also the president of the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. He’s got some great insights that can help us do a better job of managing IT teams.

Details, Details, Details

In an interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Tachi explained how he manages people without losing control. He explained that he tries to avoid micromanaging his staff. Instead he says that he has “microinterest”.

The subtle difference here is that he is very interested in the details of what people are working on. However, he tries very hard to not tell them what to do.

Just like in IT, Tachi’s organization has countless projects going on at the same time. There’s too much here for any one person to stay on top of. What Tachi does is to spend time at the beginning of a project studying the various steps that it will go through. He’ll identify the critical step in the project – the one that everything else depends on. That’s where he’ll spend his time understanding what needs to be done there because more often than not, any problems that the project has will develop in this area.

How To Connect With Your Staff

In order to manage an IT team well you have to truly connect with that team. Tachi points out that if you are living in a box far removed from where your team is and how they are living their lives, then you’ll never be able to connect with them. Instead, you need to spend time with them and find out how they think and why they think that way. Since you don’t know everything, this is a great way to learn more.

When you have an opportunity to interact with a person, Tachi says that you need to take the time to make that person feel as though in your world they are the only person who really matters. That means turning off the cell phone and putting away the BlackBerry.

Each person on your team will have their good features and their bad features. As an IT manager it’s your job to make the most of what you have. Tachi says that working to bring out the good features in everyone is what a manager has to do.

One key factor that every manager has to understand is the background of each team member. Those on the team who moved around a lot during their childhood are generally better able to deal with change than those who grew up where they were born.

What All Of This Means For You

Nobody ever said that managing a team of smart, bright professionals was going to be easy. No matter if you are working in healthcare or IT this is going to be a full time job.

Tachi makes the point that to be a good manager you need to understand what really interests you. You need to have a good understanding of what kind of challenges you are looking for in order to be an effective manager.

Using Tachi’s suggestions, IT Leaders can do a better job of connecting with their staff and moving the entire company forward faster.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Knowledge

Question For You: Do you think that face-to-face time with your team really matters in the 21st Century?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Good IT Leaders find ways to use the tools that IT provides along with the skills that their teams have in order to help the company move faster and do more. Nowhere is this currently more visible than in the world of retail sales…

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