In Everett’s guide, a fictional rookie manager who goes from stressed-out schlub to self-assured leader gives advice on management.
Despite its title, this how-to guide doesn’t promise to transform you into an elite manager in the time it takes to butter toast. Instead, the 12 seconds refers to the near-death experience of Alex T. Pilgrim, a fictional young manager who ends up in the emergency room because of a stalled project. While his heart stops beating for those fateful seconds, he experiences a divine intervention of sorts and visits a dozen “Master Managers” who help him find the path to success. The founder of consulting firm Cognition Network, Everett uses Alex Pilgrim’s mistakes to dramatize the need for “soft” skills. Creating budgets and mastering other hard skills are important, but Everett argues that managers must also embrace 12 interpersonal “imperatives” to excel in today’s business environment. Written in movie script format, Alex is magically transported to a different locale and meets a guru who specializes in each imperative. At the Truman Presidential Library, he is taught the importance of cultivating executive support during a complex project, epitomized by the U.S. effort to develop an atomic bomb. Later he learns how to propel elite performance standards by reviewing the Apollo project at the Kennedy Space Center. Standing before the $700 million Mona Lisa, Alex discovers how to articulate value to secure the best resources and improve team performance. While the story itself may be trite, the advice offered is pure middle-management gold. The author not only succinctly defines concepts like team building, strategy development and risk management, he provides tools to acquire them. Though refreshingly free of the flowcharts and conceptual diagrams that plague the business genre, readers still must wade through a hefty amount of corporate jargon. But those who toil among the cubicles of the modern office may identify with the plight of Alex Pilgrim, whose fairy-tale metamorphosis is comforting and empowering.
A quirky approach and tangible lessons unite in a textbook worthy of any aspiring manager’s shelf.