Numerology for Managers

Quick Preface:
A good number of connective coaching links in this posting today for the TS reader who is a manager and MWA student: I add the
Talking Story links at the ending if you prefer to keep your clicks within Ho‘ohana Publishing.

Early in the publishing process, my favorite one-line description for my book, Managing with Aloha, would come from my agent Roger while we were still in copy-editing mode. He called the MWA philosophy “a sensibility for worthwhile work.”

Loved it. It was very reaffirming for what I hoped MWA would be.

Sensibility makes me think of common sense, something that always seems to be in short supply —especially when you realize you need it most. It also makes me think of being practical, of “keeping it real,” and of usefulness.

The words “worthwhile work” are all about Ho‘ohana, which you know to be my favorite one of the Hawaiian values (Don’t get nervous: Aloha is core assumption and unwavering belief; it graciously allows others to be ‘favorites.’) For me, Ho‘ohana is mission-critical.

(what I believe to be true) ~ ~ ~

ALOHA is about you living with authenticity in a world populated with other people. We human beings were not meant to live alone, we thrive in each other’s company. Aloha celebrates everything that makes you YOU.

HO‘OHANA is about you making your living in our world in the way that gives you daily direction and intention and leaves you with a feeling of personal fulfillment every day —not just when you have accomplished large goals.

Can Numbers Become Common Sense?

This past Tuesday, I wrote “Leadership Needs a Numbers Breakthrough” as our September Aloha because we managers seem to have a “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” kind of relationship with numbers. We make conventional associations with them ”“ like budget, ROI, and other financial terms ”“ which are necessary measurements, but not liberating enough. Not captivating enough. Not sensible in the every-day scheme of things. Sure, they are sensible to all the people in Accounting, Banking and Finance (and we do respect and appreciate them; we do), but numbers only as measurements have not become common-sensible in how we approach our work every day ”“ in how we approach our Ho‘ohana.

What we managers are supposed to do, is get work to make sense. We are the people who bring sensibility to worthwhile work. MWA is a values-based philosophy seeking to help, by giving you tools to work with (like the Daily 5 Minutes), but the execution of it all depends on you.

So here is September’s challenge: How do we get numbers to make sense?

I don’t have all the answers. I have a few which work great for me, knowing what works well in my business, and with my goals, hopes and dreams. I’ve been able to turn them into better tools; shared a story about that yesterday with the Joyful Jubilant Learning Community: Learning My 9 Boxes.

You need to do the same thing for you.

If there were a better, kick-ass, highly common sense “Numerology for Managers” what might it possibly include? Any ideas?

Beyond Your Spreadsheets and my 9 Boxes

For instance, Paul Diamond had shared this video with us on Joyful Jubilant Learning yesterday, about the Magic of 9: Parlor trick, or common sense thinking?

[~YouTube link for those using RSS and not seeing the embed here~]

I asked JJLer Ruth Radney, who teaches a “Creative Math” class for high schoolers, “What do you consider the difference between a learning trick, and cheating the learning process?” and Ruth responded:

“There are some students for whom this is just a tool to help them remember facts, but to many students, it becomes a fascination. 9’s are particularly unique, and as students learn one “trick” they begin to explore to see if other numbers have similar attributes or surprise characteristics. To me, that turns a math “trick” into a tool for exploratory learning.”

The bold above is mine: I truly think “It becomes a fascination” is key. The other phrase we can key on (pun fully intended) is “tool for exploratory learning” for we managers can be all about tools — and they need not exclusively be spreadsheets!

Contextual Clarity: our Definition of ‘Managing’

We’ve said that management is about the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’

We managers channel available energies productively. We make the workplace vitality-charged by making it interesting and dynamic.

I do want you to think about sensibility and possibility as a winning combination. After writing “Leadership Needs a Numbers Breakthrough” I popped it into my Palena ‘ole category within the personal indexing I do ”“ the 9th Key within the MWA 9 Key Concepts. It felt most natural to me ”“ it made the most MWA sensibility ”“ because numbers can be both precise and infinite in the framing they offer.

9. Palena ‘ole (Unlimited Capacity):
This is your exponential growth stage, and about seeing your bigger and better leadership dreams come to fruition. Think “Legacy.” Create abundance by honoring capacity; physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Seek inclusive, full engagement and optimal productivity, and scarcity will be banished.

For me, the number 9 is associated with abundance: It holds so much in that 4-fold capacity (physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual) and I can always drill down from there. I can drill down into my Alaka‘i Language of Leadership AND my Ho‘ohana — into my sensibility for worthwhile work as a manager.

It helps to always start with abundance because your choices seem so plentiful, and you can then pick the choice which fascinates you most. Fascination is your ticket to self-motivation. We cannot really motivate others, for motivation is an inside job. But if we help them become intrigued and fascinated, their motivation will naturally follow.

I would love to come to a new, cool and sexy definition for “Numerology for Managers” by the time the month is over: It is a thought which intrigues and fascinates me because I think it will be useful, especially if we make it sensible.

Will you help me think about this? Let’s talk story.

For those who prefer them, here are the Talking Story, JJL, MWA and MWAC copies of the links embedded in this posting:

  1. At Joyful Jubilant Learning: Learning to Be of Use
  2. At Managing with Aloha: Choose Values
  3. What’s your Calling? Has it become your Ho‘ohana?
  4. Leadership Needs a Numbers Breakthrough
  5. Two Gifts: Values and Conversation (About the Daily 5 Minutes)
  6. At Joyful Jubilant Learning: Learning My 9 Boxes
  7. Management is What and How
  8. 3 Ways Managers Create Energetic Workplaces
  9. Following is NOT a Passive Activity
  10. At Managing with Aloha: The MWA 9 Key Concepts (About Palena ‘ole as the 9th Key)
  11. Do you ask Good Questions? (About framing)
  12. Do you define your Leadership Greatness?
  13. On MWA Coaching: Palena ‘ole: Discover your 4-Fold Capacity
  14. Your Alaka‘i Language of Leadership
  15. How Managers Matter in a Healthy Culture
  16. Newly thinking about~ Motivation

Article originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” September 2009
Numerology for Managers


  1. Rosa Say says

    Late to finding this, but want to keep it where I’m sure to remember it! Great article by the Made to Stick authors in their Fast Company column: The Gripping Statistic: How to Make Your Data Matter. In part:

    Big numbers fuzz our brains, and that is just as true in business as it is in public policy. Speaking in “millions” and “billions” is like your second year of Spanish: You’ve memorized the vocabulary, but it’s hard to think in the language. The challenge of communicating the significance of numbers — and acting on them — is to find ways to bring them closer to people’s day-to-day experience.