Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Book — The 59-Second Employee — André & Ward

Synopsis

The book packages itself as an antidote to formulaic management, in particular the One Minute Manager, by looking at the other side of the relationship.

Discussion

Taken at face value, the book espouses a sociopathic level of manipulation by the employee of his manager. For those with more normal personalities, it is better thought of as a reductio ad absurdum of the pitfalls of one-size-fits-all management. Indeed, by its opening analogy of the employee being like a brick — solid and on the square — and the summary as epigram — “There ain't no one best way!” — make it clear.

The episodes in this book gather together the likely circumstances where sphex-like application of a specific management technique fails; the sheer accumulation in a narrative certainly gives the impression of employee-as-saboteur, which serves possibly to overemphasise the problem. But is it that unreasonable? Maybe we won't all actively work to subvert the system all the time; but now and again, things will not go according to the script. And if following the script by rote is all the manager is doing, and he isn't able to recover when things go astray, that will be a management failure.

Conclusion

Just as the Romans assigned a slave to a Triumphator's chariot to whisper into his ear from time to time “Respice post te, hominem te esse memento.”, so this book should serve to anyone who thinks that having read a text on man-management that they are completely equipped with the winning formula for the purpose.

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