Management By Book of the Month

Our friend Chris Ponder wrote an article for Performance I Create titled Why Trend Following Can Hurt Performance. In this post he talks about fads and trends and how they can be effectively applied to individual performance. When he mentioned his post, the first thing that came to mind for me are the trends that have come and gone in business and how they have impacted team performance and employee engagement.

Management By Book of the Month

Take these books for example:

  • The One Minute Manager
  • Who Moved My Cheese?
  • What Color is Your Parachute?
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Good to Great
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • Contented Cows Give Better Milk


If you have been anywhere near an American corporation or sat next to an executive on an airplane in the last 10 years, you’ve likely heard of or seen one of these books. I am married to the son of a dairy farmer, so I am kind of partial to the titles referencing cows, milk and cheese. Mmmm…I digress. So, just what do these books all have in common? These books, and many others like them, have probably circulated through your office at one point in time or another. It hit the New York Times Best Seller list and everyone who’s anyone in business had to read it, including your organization’s CEO. What followed was:

  • a new mantra for how you and your coworkers would be expected to behave;
  • an improved way to manage change;
  • a fancy new tool to use to prioritize tasks;
  • a sparkly new flow chart for leaders to use to engage and retain talent and on and on and on….

For each of these amazing new tools and behaviors comes the mandatory training! (Insert collective eye-roll here)

Don’t get me wrong. These books are great and well-written by intelligent business leaders. If they had no merit, they would top the charts. So why do all these incredibly valuable and insightful initiatives fail?

  1. They do not align with the true culture of your organization.
  2. Because they do not fit with the environment, the initiative is not sustainable.
  3. Employees and customers get confused about your company’s focus.
  4. Employees don’t buy-in because they know if they wait it out, another program will eventually come along.

Instead of attempting to shift your organizations beliefs, values or culture based on the latest best seller use the information and practices to enhance what you have already worked hard to define and build. Your employees and customers will thank you for it.

Alicia McDougal


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