There is no shortage of management and leadership advice. Consuming and processing it in an attempt to improve one’s abilities is daunting. This post is about a framework for learning within the domains of management and leadership. The goal is to provide a structured latticework that can help pick up new skills like tools in a tool box. Given the expansive set of advice and knowledge freely available on the topic of management and leadership, a framework for learning was necessary for me.

This approach to learning is similar to that of mental models. The notion of creating a latticework as a means to learn was popularized by Charlie Munger:

Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ’em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form. You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience both vicarious and direct on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.

The framework itself is quite simple - it is a list of all of the domains of leadership, and how they interact with each other as a system. My experience is in the private sector - specifically that of software startups - but some parts of this are applicable outside of that context as well.

To built the latticework, it starts with a simple observation of what’s going on in a corporation:

Individuals working together, making decisions and executing towards positive outcomes and meaningful impact.

This is a very generic description, and seems simplistic, but for me helped to cover the scope of outcomes for which I was directly or indirectly responsible.

I then broke this down further to highlight the domains of responsibility of a leader. The domains further detail the scope of the role, which is the starting point to building a learning framework.

  • Self Domain, concerned with managing your own well being as a leader.
  • Individual Domain, concerned with management at an individual level
  • Organization Domain, concerned with how people organize and effectively work together
  • Application Domain: concerned with the specifics of outputs and outcomes of the organization. Outputs are are specific to a functional area - some teams create products, others services, and others sell what is being created. Outcomes are how customers interact with them, be it an external market or internal users. There is a tight feedback loop between the two, which is why these live in the same domain.
  • Impact Domain, concerned with the broader impacts of what’s being created

This is a system in which these domains are highly connected to each other, and they interact with the adjacent ones. Individual impact teams, teams impact outputs, etc.

In further posts, I’ll expand on each domain. I will also “stress test” this framework through my personal experience and practice, as well as through examining how battle-tested leadership practices can be added into this approach. I’m looking forward to seeing when and how this breaks.