Goldilocks got it right!


Goldilocks got it right!

There are some things in this world that are just too hot. Others are too cold. Some things are too hard; others are too soft. Some things, too small; others, too large. Each time, Goldilocks found the one in the middle to be just right.

Chris Booker coined the phrase “dialectical three” as he spoke about the wisdom found in Goldilocks’ neurotic behavior: “The first is wrong in one way, the second in another or opposite way, and only the third, in the middle, is just right. This idea that the way forward lies in finding an exact middle path between opposites is of extraordinary importance in storytelling”.

Goldilocks got it right about planets and the economy!

It turns out that this idea of a dialectical three is not just important in fictional fairy tales. The Goldilocks Planet refers to a planet not too far from its star, not too close to its star, but a distance from its star that is just right for sustaining an inhabitable environment. The term “Goldilocks Economy” has been used to describe an economy where there is not too much growth, nor is there too little growth, but the economy is just right to sustain moderate levels of growth and low inflation.

Goldilocks got it right about management!

I am a firm believer in Goldilocks Management. The Goldilocks principle can be applied to many aspects of management.

– Goals set too high are out of reach and non-motivating. Goals set too low can’t motivate peak performance. But goals set just right can be powerful peak performance motivators.

– Stress levels at work that are too high can be mind blowing. Too little stress can be mind numbing. But stress levels that are just right can invigorate employees toward exceptional performance.

Dr. Maynard Brusman discusses the Goldilocks Management Mindset. He asserts that in some circumstances managers can be too assertive and damage working relationships. At other times when managers are too passive they fail to inspire their teams. Managers, according to Brusman, need to be aware of which management style is just right.

Goldilocks got it right about business books!

Having read dozens of business books and talked with dozens of others who’ve read dozens of business books (cumulatively, thousands of books) I’ve found a common thread among them. Some are just too academic. These are the books with over 300 pages of four and five syllable words with Latin and French origins that only Ph.D.s and weirdos read. You have to read these books with an open dictionary. They are good for inducing naps. Some business books are just too touchy-feelly-feel-good-gospellesque. These are often best sellers that managers love to talk about. The jargon in them is easy to grasp and fun to consider. But at the end of the day, nobody knows if their principles are valid or even how to implement them if they are.

But every now and then, a business book comes along that is just right. Some of my favorites include Scott Shane’s The Illusions of Entrepreneurship, John Kotter’s Leading Change and Our Iceberg is Melting, and Jim Collin’s Good to Great.

Based on the input we’ve received from reviewers of the early manuscripts, it appears that David Allen and I might make Goldilocks proud with our forthcoming book, Managing Employee Turnover. Time, and I hope readers like you, will tell.

If Goldilocks has a list of her favorite books, I hope I make that list.

© Dr. Phil Bryant

Dr. Bryant is an Assistant Professor of Management at Columbus State University and co-author of Managing Employee Turnover.

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