A concise handbook to executive leadership that challenges prevailing wisdom.
The anonymous author, a retired business executive, begins by pitting this work against the deluge of executive management manuals that have recently flooded the market: “Simply stated, I’ve decided that I don’t believe a good bit of what these gurus have written.” The author writes that the more popular management theories are insufficiently grounded in empirical research and real executive experience, leading to impractical counsel. This book offers a celebration of executive pragmatism, consistently recommending that readers replace airy generalities and indeterminate theories with hard metrics and specifics. Much of it is devoted to immediately actionable advice useful to any businessman; for example, the author advises that each company department should clarify its objectives and quantify its progress toward them. However, the most enthralling sections go beyond such advice and diagnose companies’ underlying maladies. At one point, the author offers an approach to avoiding superfluous meetings, including the delicious suggestion that some executives intentionally overschedule themselves to demonstrate their busyness and indispensability. The author also provides a rollicking takedown of grand attempts to rewrite a company’s “culture.” The book is speckled with lively, refreshingly irreverent observations: “The conference room is neither a locker room nor a foxhole, and executives who confuse themselves about that always look silly—the obligatory cheers and applause notwithstanding.” The core message is that unthinking attachment to idealized notions can frustrate attempts to achieve good things. Instead, the author recommends, people should “embrace less than optimal solutions to keep everyone committed, and to develop talent.”
A book of wryly humorous business insights filled with practical guidance.