Consultants Danley and Hughes tackle various business-management challenges in a simulated medical manual.
This debut assesses an array of management problems as if they were “diseases and disorders,” using a highly stylized format. Each entry details the aspects of each “condition”—including “healthy and normal function,” “causes of dysfunction,” risks, symptoms, prognosis, and treatment. The relatively short descriptions and bulleted text make for a book that’s easy to scan as well as read in-depth. It also calls attention to a multitude of typical workplace problems by ingeniously classifying them into “personality-based diseases and disorders” and “culture- or system-based diseases and disorders.” The book includes more than 50 separate, richly described conditions, each illustrated with a brief but relevant case study, and the descriptions are spot-on throughout; for example, “Abusive Insecurity” is defined as “The tendency to denigrate employees after they experience a significant success in order to keep them humble, fearful, and dependent.” The prognosis for this condition includes a perceptive warning: “The true irony is that by behaving in this manner, the boss finally makes his or her worst fear a reality.” Although the overall work has a serious purpose, the style is occasionally tongue-in-cheek—particularly regarding the diseases’ names, such as “Foot-in-Mouth Disease” and “The Perpetrating Savior.” There’s real genius in this book, though; the authors’ ability to parse out the individual conditions is remarkable, as are their keen insights into each specific management problem. A final, succinct chapter offers their take on management ills in general: “If we ever hope to operate worthy organizations, these diseases and disorders must be identified, understood, and treated.”
An inventive, imaginative, and beautifully crafted management guide.