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Business Books: Reinventing Management Efficiency | BBS library | Bizsum

Reinventing Management

In Reinventing Management, Julian Birkinshaw offers alternative counterpoints to replace the traditional ways people approach management and business. Arguing that management “failed” after years of corruption and employee disenchantment, Birkinshaw presents compelling arguments for how management can be improved and updated for a new era of business. With a fresh perspective on management issues, such as communication, coordination, setting objectives, and motivating employees, Birkinshaw offers decision makers and corporate influencers an actionable guide for reinventing and reinvigorating management at companies both large and small.

Birkinshaw offers readers the following advice:

  • Management is defined as the act of getting people together in order to accomplish certain goals and objectives. However, that definition has become corrupted over the years, narrowing the scope of what management should be.
  • An enduring source of competitive advantage for companies is a novel business model. In addition, a novel management model can also keep a company strong.
  • The traditional way for coordinating work in a large company is bureaucracy, which is a more formalized structure. Alternatively, a company can use emergence to coordinate work. Emergence is spontaneous, and work is accomplished by parties working together as a matter of self-interest.
  • The traditional path for making and communicating decisions in a large organization is via hierarchy. The alternative path is collective wisdom, where aggregated expertise is valued more highly than the advice of one leader.
  • The traditional principle for goal setting in large companies is alignment, where all employees work toward a common goal. The alternative is obliquity, the idea that goals are best achieved when worked toward indirectly.
  • Traditionally, extrinsic motivators like money or threat of punishment were used to incentivize workers. The better alternative is intrinsic motivation, by which employers motivate workers with rewards that are inherent to the task itself.
  • There are four main models of management: Discovery, Planning, Quest, and Science. Selecting the right model is important for managers looking to improve their organizations.
  • Management model innovation is usually driven by three sets of people. These are mid-level change agents, top-level executives, and external partners, such as academics or consultants.

The Practical Drucker

94776685Peter Drucker is often considered to be the “father of modern management.” For decades, the great business thinker produced dozens of books, articles, and lectures providing groundbreaking insight on leadership and organizational success. In The Practical Drucker, William H. Cohen distills the wisdom from the vast body of Drucker’s work into 40 succinct truths. Cohen provides readers with the necessary guidelines and examples to use these 40 truths to solve people, management, marketing, innovation, and organizational problems.

Peter Drucker’s work has played an essential role in shaping modern management. While many leaders wish to integrate more of Drucker’s wisdom into their performances, it is difficult to know where to start. William H. Cohen extracted the following practical touch-points from Drucker’s extensive work:

  • The responsibility of a leader is to protect and inspire others. Drucker believed that it was a leader’s ethical duty to keep others from harm and that an organization’s success comes from a leader’s ability to inspire and encourage employees.
  • People have no limits. Drucker felt that all people have the potential for success as long as they work hard at developing themselves.
  • Avoid doing what generated success in the past to achieve success in the future. When organizations hold on to the old products and business tactics that once made them successful, they are unable to evolve with the changing times, and will eventually fail.
  • Good management requires leaders to take problems head on. Whether it is office politics or a pending organization-wide crisis, Drucker recommended that managers identify every problem they are faced with and take positive action immediately.
  • Only irrational marketers believe there are irrational customers. Drucker argued that marketers who label their customers as “irrational” because of their purchasing decisions do not understand what their customers value.
  • Some of the best innovation comes from “unexpected” circumstances. Drucker believed that strange events and trends were some of the best places for organizations to find innovation opportunities.
  • The purpose of a business is not to make a profit. Too many organizations focus on profit when they should be focusing on the true purpose of the business, which Drucker argued was to create customers.
  • The two most important organizational functions are marketing and innovation. Organizations must always be creating new products that customers actually want to buy.


Rapid Realignment

94994429In Rapid Realignment, George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky chart the path to optimal organizational performance by integrating key processes, staff, customers, and strategies to serve the primary purpose of an enterprise—increasing stakeholder value. Alignment is the result of this integration, and organizations that achieve it succeed by focusing their people and resources on providing optimal customer satisfaction. In aligned organizations, employees at every level understand the business’s goals and strategies and know how their efforts advance them. Their clear understanding of customer needs enables the constant improvement of products and services that win and maintain customer loyalty. This adjustment, or rapid realignment, is a necessity in a global economy in which swiftly changing conditions and demands can pose serious challenges to an organization’s survival.

According to Labovitz and Rosansky:

  • To support an organization’s primary purpose, its staff, strategy, customers, and processes must be aligned. This alignment requires clear communication, complete understanding of its objectives, and the commitment of all involved in the process. When external forces or events cause misalignment and reduces effectiveness, rapid realignment is essential to ensure continued success.
  • The alignment framework is made up of four elements — strategy, people, processes, and customers. Strategies will change as requirements change, and when they do they must be rapidly deployed. Core processes that serve customers must continually undergo improvement.
  • Vertical alignment is achieved when employees can articulate the organization’s strategy and explain how their work supports it. This understanding is what boosts the deployment of new strategies.
  • Horizontal alignment is achieved when the communication barriers that separate employees from customers are removed. This means that employees understand customer needs and are committed to improving service.
  • Every organization must have a Main Thing — a meaningful description of what it wants to accomplish. It must be a common and unifying concept to which every unit can make a contribution.
  • Social media is an excellent means for fostering trust and bringing people together to advance both the Main Thing and management’s plans for achieving it. It facilitates employee communication with management and enables employees to ask questions that get answers.
  • To effectively change their cultures, organizations must determine the behaviors that will best implement their strategies and meet customer needs, as well as ensure that attitudes and values are aligned with their Main Things.
  • To effectively change behaviors, new strategies must be explained repeatedly. Employees must be able to comprehend how their participation will ensure the strategies’ success and how their contributions will be valued.

Managers as Mentors

91717331Change is endemic in the modern corporate setting, and employees who are continually learning are better equipped to evolve with this change. In Managers as Mentors, Chip R. Bell and Marshall Goldsmith present a mentoring guide that assists managers in taking on coaching roles to enhance the skills and abilities of associates. The authors emphasize that protégés are meant to develop into confident individuals who assume greater roles, and that the mentor/protégé connection is a partnership in which both parties gain valuable insights throughout the process. Managers as Mentors explores the full range of mentoring, from creating empathy, sharing knowledge, and effective listening to stimulating curiosity, assessing performance, and letting the protégé independently exercise newly-mastered skills.

According to the authors:

  • The best mentors recognize that their relationships are based on mutual interests, interdependence, and respect. The communication between mentor and protégé must be honest, straightforward, and open.
  • Protégés learn best when they are tutored in an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. Some may bring anxiety to the relationship, and this is a learning barrier because it suppresses risk taking. The mentor must overcome this by building rapport to a level where the protégé is willing to take rational risks.
  • A motivated protégé is one who will learn. Learners are better prepared psychologically if they accept the “why” of learning before they hear the “what” and the “how.”
  • Communication without judgment is essential to mentoring. Mentors should express themselves to protégés in terms of acceptance and affirmation in order to eliminate protégé defensiveness and encourage freer expression.
  • Mentors must remember that discussions are opportunities to augment their learning, not lecture. Good mentors yield the pulpit as much as possible to allow their protégés to think for themselves.
  • Listening is essential to mentoring. Mentors should give undivided attention to their protégés, deny distractions, and make their protégés the absolute focus of their energies. This fosters greater understanding by ensuring that communication between the two parties becomes the foundation of intellectual linkage.
  • A certain level of dependency is unavoidable in the mentor/protégé relationship, but it can be harmful if permitted to become too influential. To avoid hindering growth and development, alternative routes to learning must be explored.

Boring Meetings Suck


Boring Meetings Suck by Jon Petz is intended for leaders who want to end, or at least minimize, useless time consuming meetings. To be great, a meeting must deliver real value by providing useful information, fostering creativity, supplying motivation, and building unity among participants. Petz offers techniques that seem radical but can make meetings more efficient and effective, including tips on how to recognize what meetings to skip, how to address poor meeting facilitation or bad etiquette, and descriptions of alternative style meeting formats to speed things up. Specific pointers on eye contact, stage presence, and speech patterns show how to make presentations more engaging. Petz also offers innovative ideas for enhancing meetings with technology, along with clever ways to politely wrap up meetings or gracefully get out of them.

Petz offers readers the following advice:

  • An established agenda with clearly defined goals and desired outcomes is essential for any meeting.
  • Every meeting attendee has the right and responsibility to make the meeting productive, and when attendees are empowered to diplomatically keep the meeting on track, especially when a facilitator fails to do so, everyone benefits.
  • Technology can greatly enhance meeting communication, build deeper engagement, and increase input, but it must not overshadow the intended meeting objectives.
  • To avoid boring meetings, people must only call meetings when it is absolutely necessary, then use creative ways to move the meeting along quickly — such as holding the meeting in a room without chairs or walking up and down the hallway stairwells.
  • The key to effective meetings is for both the facilitator and the attendees to prepare at least 24 hours in advance to be knowledgeable about the issues and objectives.
  • Limit invitees to those who are true stakeholders directly affected by the meeting’s objectives and desired outcomes.

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work . . . and What Does

Why Motivating People Doesn’t WorkInspiring and motivating people are key aspects of leadership that are as critical as they are elusive. Leaders struggle to find ways to keep their people engaged and performing at their best, and this is largely because they misunderstand the nature of motivation. In an effort to push people to achieve results, many leaders employ counterproductive strategies. In Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work . . . and What Does, Susan Fowler reveals why traditional “carrot and stick” approaches to motivation will always fail to sustain results and explains the science behind what truly determines people’s attitudes and behaviors.

According to Fowler:

  • Motivation falls along a spectrum of six outlooks: disinterested, external, imposed, aligned, integrated, and inherent.
  • The disinterested, external, and imposed outlooks are suboptimal motivational outlooks; they yield only short-term or no benefits and do not lead to a positive sense of well-being. The aligned, integrated, and inherent outlooks are optimal motivational outlooks; they yield long-term benefits, sustained energy, and a positive sense of well-being.
  • People have deep psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence, collectively referred to as ARC. The more a person’s needs for ARC are being met, the more optimal his or her motivational outlook will be.
  • Meeting their needs for ARC is the end that people seek, consciously or not, and the means to that end is self-regulation. Three techniques support high-quality self-regulation: mindfulness, values, and purpose. The greater a person’s quality of self-regulation, the more optimal his or her motivational outlook will be.
  • Leaders cannot make others shift to more optimal motivational outlooks, but they can facilitate a shift by conducting motivational outlook conversations. They can teach others these three skills of motivation after they have learned to apply them personally: identify the current motivational outlook, shift to (or maintain) an optimal motivational outlook, and reflect.

What’s Next, Gen X?

What's Next, Gen X?Stuck behind a large generation of Boomer leaders, challenged by an eager generation of Millennial whiz kids, and facing the tough mid-career years, Generation X faces a multitude of challenges in the workplace. In What’s Next, Gen X?, award-winning author and organizational demographics expert Tamara Erickson explains what has shaped the members of Generation X and how they can successfully apply their unique traits to get what they want in the next phases of their personal and professional lives. The book takes an in-depth look at the past events that have influenced Generation X, examines today’s evolving workplace, and offers insight into future leadership possibilities.

As Generation X employees work hard to keep up with other generations and move ahead into more fulfilling careers, they must:

  • Understand what shaped Generation X. Born between 1965 and 1979, members of Generation X experienced social change and uncertainty in their formative teen years. From a stagnant economy to technological innovation and the rise of alternative rock, Generation X teenagers learned to distrust corporate life, value their friends over their families, and develop global empathy.
  • Figure out where Generation X stands today. Members of Generation X face risky financial positions as they continue to raise small children, care for aging parents, and pay off college debts and home mortgages.
  • Know what the other four generations are thinking. Generation X shares the workplace with four other generations: Traditionalists, Boomers, Millennials, and the Re-Generation. Each group thinks and behaves differently, and to be successful, Generation X employees must know how to interact with colleagues from every cohort.
  • Reset life and work priorities. Members of Generation X have many shared desires, including control, affluence, balance, and to be good parents.
  • Look at the changing workplace. The nature and availability of work is changing for Generation X. With the advancement of technology, Generation X can work from anywhere and at any time. As Generation X expects more flexibility in work arrangements, the employee-employer power balance will be forced to shift.
  • Make organizations work for them. Most Generation X employees work within organizations. To be successful at work, they must maximize their effectiveness, leverage what they do, expand their options for greater long-term career sustainability, and balance the demands of their organizations with the other priorities in their lives.
  • Find alternative workplaces. Generation X employees are more likely to work independently, establish entrepreneurial ventures, join small firms, and juggle multiple jobs than employees of other generations.
  • Become next generation leaders. Generation X will need to create work environments that support innovation. To do this, leaders will need to increase collaborative capacity, ask compelling questions, embrace complexity, shape organizational identity, and appreciate diversity.


Resolving Conflicts at Work

Resolving ConflictIn Resolving Conflicts at Work, Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith help readers understand the underlying causes of conflict and how to approach it in new ways. Conflicts at work arise because companies are made up of diverse group of people with different communication styles and differing expectations. Few people have been trained to resolve conflict in a healthy manner, which is why conflict is common in every workplace. Transformation does not occur until people first resolve how they became stuck in conflict and take time to develop new strategies. When an organization operates with a culture where conflicts are avoided, honesty and creativity is lost in the process. People need to take time to look inward and understand what conflict means to them and how their perceptions impact the way they respond to these situations.

According to the authors:

  • All conflict is influenced by an individual’s background and learned responses. When people understand this, they can work to uncover the hidden meanings behind any conflict.
  • When people listen to opponents with an open mind, their opponents will do the same for them.
  • The language used to describe a conflict reflects attitudes and assumptions. It can reveal the interests, emotions, and histories that are behind the surface-level issue.
  • Difficult behaviors are present in every workplace and, in some cases, are inadvertently encouraged through reward systems. When these behaviors are discussed in the open, there is opportunity to improve on all sides and develop perseverance.
  • Resistance is often the result of an underlying need, such as improved communication or greater involvement in decision making. When the reasons for resistance are explored, it becomes easier to collaborate and negotiate for a solution.
  • To prevent the same conflicts in the future, systems can be developed within an organization. This prevents conflicts and sets the standard for how they are to be managed when they do occur.

To download three free summaries, please visit Bizsum site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library:

10 Steps to Successful Meetings, No More Pointless Meetings, Standing in the Fire

Full Engagement!Bare Knuckle People ManagementManaging for People Who Hate Managing

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