Saturday, May 30, 2009

First, Break All the Rules - Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

"The greatest managers in the world seem to have little in common. They differ in sex, age, and race. They employ vastly different styles and focus on different goals. Yet despite their differences, great managers share one common trait: They do not hesitate to break virtually every rule held sacred by conventional wisdom."

It had been a while since I read a business/management book. So, when my manager gave this book with an inscription saying "read this for a change" , I have decided to oblige and have a go at it.

I am weary of management and self help kind of books. This book too have started with similar settings. However great the company is, it is the managers who retain talents and who bleed talents from an organisation, managers are the key to the survival and success of the company , etc etc. However, as you started reading and passed few initial pages, this gets better. Instead of the usual, impractical, it-had-been-done-and-was-successful kind of writing, this was much clearer in approach and was pertaining to my daily life. Not that it had anything extra ordinary or a revelation to me, the subject was treated with appropriate details and few examples.

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman , two consultants with Gallup Organization, get together to analyse the result of the 25 years 80000 managers survey on the elements of a great manager. Though we have been through many studies and analyses of what a great manager is, in this book the discussion is on what the great managers across the globe, over the years managed to do, making them different from the ordinary. According to the authors, they have debunked the myths and the old style of management by breaking the existing rules.

To summarise, there are four major elements to a great manager. ( Well, this book is on people management and not the general business management)
1. Select for talent
2. Define the right outcomes
3. Focus on strengths
4. Plan their progression or Find the Right Fit

There are detailed discussion on each of these key area of performance. There are discussion on Talent ( natural recurring patterns of thought within a person) , Skill and knowledge and their differences. There are practical suggestions on setting the parameters to get the right outcome. Each person has a unique set of talents making them unique. Great managers identify these unique talents and assign them works based on these talents. What is important is not to attemtp to fix the weaknesses of the individual, but to focus on his talent and strength.

The examples aren't strong or convincing. These are at random and appears fabricated to suit the situation. That makes it little awkward in the flow of reading. There aren't any case studies , very few references to the organisations ( few quotes on GE - favourite company for management book authors) , thus reducing the impact of the topic in discussion. Otherwise, it had been a relevant read with out the overdose of cliches and jargons we are used to seeing in such books.

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
Marcus Buckingham
& Curt Coffman
Simon & Schuster271 Pages
Rs 395
More Reads : Gallup Management Journal, , CEO Refresher

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