A demanding road map for turning around a failing business.
Fifty years of corporate management experience are distilled in this practical handbook for business managers, especially for those tasked with saving a business that is bleeding revenue and fending off bruising publicity. In their debut volume, the Zoreas—father and son—coach middle managers on fixing internal management problems. The senior author’s engineering background is evident in the book’s clear, methodical approach to information gathering and analysis, all succinctly summarized in a questionnaire included as an appendix. The basis of good management, according to the Zoreas, is the unglamorous but necessary business of “problem finding, problem solving, implementation, monitoring, and control.” In turning around a failing business, accurate profit-and-loss accounting matters more than charismatic leadership, the authors write. The handbook is filled with tables showing, for example, how to keep track of action items and how to create “change design” dashboards. Offering coaching tips on communicating effectively with higher-ups, selecting project management software and conducting productive meetings, the book has an explicit bias against employees with advanced degrees who lack multidisciplinary business skills, despite their MBAs. It also takes aim at conflict-of-interest practices among corporate executives. Some executives who are compensated for meeting performance benchmarks are setting goals and objectives that are too easy to reach, thereby causing their companies to stagnate and lose market share. It’s hard to imagine a more disciplined regimen for business recovery than the one outlined by this coaching duo, who demand a seven-days-a-week commitment of time and thought for a stretch of two to three years. Although the book follows a fictional midcareer business manager through two years of coaching, many of the narrative details—e.g., “Chuck took a sip of his mineral water”—aren’t great additions to the book’s valuable business insights, including those related to outsourcing. Chuck criticizes managers who, instead of learning how to manage complex business challenges, become “addicted” to outsourcing: “Maybe that’s okay for the retiring generation, but what about the younger generations who need to work and feed their families?”
Tough-love business management advice that never loses sight of the big-picture economy.