Pfrancing- how to deal with dysfunctional teams

18 02 2009

Regular readers will know that I (believe I) work in a severely dysfunctional unit. I have blogged before about the management approach to this. Those who have insight and QI type knowledge will of course know that

a) the ostrich never sticks it head in the sand as a coping strategy
b) Pfrancing is not a described management technique.

The truth is that an ostrich, when threatened, will simply run away. At at 155kg, with legs that can bend metal with a kick, the average ostritch in “flight” can probably average 6o km per hour.

Unfortunately, I think Pfrancing should become a recognised management technique and rather than the proverbial head in the sand, Pfrancing describes the real exit strategy of the ostrich.

The leadership fable ” The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick M. Lencioni is is an interesting read and I won’t spoil the ending for you. The ultimate sadness for me (not the divorce of the heroine, don’t worry) is that it is clear that the impetus and authority to managing and overcoming the dysfunctions of a team must come from external sources. A leadership role has to be taken by a person of both influence and authority for the group such that appropriate strategies can be worked through.

There is no suggestion that this will be easy, nor achieved in a short term but, if there is value placed on the team and its ultimate survival rather than decay into the mire of dysfunctionality, that strategy must be undertaken.

Our experience is that it was suggested that we might like to “talk things out”. The response was a whole set of preconditions and no date was agreed. That was over three months ago.

That’s Pfrancing for you though.

Have a listen to the man himself!













(I’m sorry this sounds so bitter, but expressing it certainly helps me cope.)

Management- there has to be more to it than meets the eye.

12 02 2009

It is likely that my action research project will be on the interaction between clinicians and medical management. I’d value thoughts and insight into both the project and the concept itself.

Importantly, one should understand that from the action research point of view what is equally important to the outcome of the assessment and interventions is a description of the journey taken. This entails increasing understanding of self, ladders of inference in perception and describing and discussing adjustments made on the basis of external influences. Close friends will be amused and intrigued I’m sure, but I’m quite looking forward to it.

One of the reasons for choosing this project is that my overall experience of “management” has not been good. I completely accept that this may be due to ever increasing negativity and cynicism on my part founded upon increasing layers of poor perception as well as the fact, that for most physicians, our only effective contact with “management”, in all its various guises, is in a negative or confrontational context. Clearly seeing only such negative events strongly affects our views and I should be the first to accept that this may represent only a numerator in the equation rather than the denominator. One of my challenges therefore is investigate the latter and see what else goes on that I don’t see or experience and try to gain a more balanced view of management. Recording it here is the first step.

The difficulty with describing something purely on what you can see is totally reasonable but was (possibly) where the crew of the Titanic went wrong.

New management technique- Pfrancing

10 01 2009

There is major confrontation amongst your staff members, the team is completely dysfunctional, no progress has been made in years and relationships are at an all time low. How, as a manager should you approach this situation? What management techniques should you apply to resolve the problems, re-energise the team and get progress and development back on the agenda rather than criticism and bitterness?


Miles Davis’s 1961 album, “Someday My Prince Will Come In” contains the album track, “Pfrancing“.

Miles often dedicated the tune to his wife Frances but since its release in 1961 the exact meaning of Pfrancing has remained elusive to most enquiries. No-one actually knows what it means. Is it German, does it refer to musical notation pf -piú forte (louder) or is it a play on words mixing piano (piano forte) and dancing or is the connection simply to (p)Frances? The meaning is unclear yet the track is well known. Ultimately, the name has come solely to mean the piece itself. My own view is that it promises much, it comes from a stable of great pedigree but realistically delivers nothing. Particularly in comparison to such classics as “So What“.

Pfrancing- a new name for a well established management technique.

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