Mary poppins #2

22 Nov

The Poppins clip is popping with incisive information about good management practice.

1. Mary arrives on site with a clear Purpose.  She has received a letter from the children asking for a nanny but she knows what they are asking is to fix a broken system – their parents. This could be a new project, a promotion, the development of a new process etc. etc. etc.  For Mary it is a turn-around.

2. With her carpetbag she quickly redefines the environment and takes control, in a soft way, of the situation.  She is proactive and the children are no longer running the show.

3. “Never judge things by their appearance” lets the children know that first impressions are important but should be treated as estimates, not facts.  She has not judged, they can influence her opinion through their behavior.  First impressions are hypotheses, if wrong they may drive negative expectations.

4. “A thing of beauty” communicates a useful aphorism and lets the children know something about Mary.  She intrigues them – she doesn’t frighten them.  Managers take note – fear is a usually poor place to start with people.

5. She then measures the situation thereby identifying the issues and establishing a baseline to measure progress.

6.  Measuring herself makes an explicit promise about how she will behave and engages the children in the process of change.  She is going to do it with them, not to them.  The children know, as do employees, what “practically perfect” means.

7. Mary uses magic to focus and maintain their attention.  Managers also have a form of magic – it’s called respect. Unfortunately it doesn’t work as fast as Mary’s magic but it is just as effective.

The explicit and implicit lessons are powerful. Mary knows why she is there, what needs to be done and shows how she will do it.  Through her behavior she drives the emotional context.  The children are inspired. Sounds like leadership to me.

“Well begun is half-done” indeed.  Spit-spot.

One Response to “Mary poppins #2”


  1. Axioms #9: The Poppins Principle « Managers Into Leaders - September 28, 2011

    […] Mary Poppins is a great story/video full of information about how to become a better manager.  […]

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