Q: Why did you write the book Managing on Purpose?
Especially during my tenure in corporate America, I encountered managers and supervisors who weren’t prepared. Some would have technical expertise, and some were perhaps too well schooled in traditional management, but few possessed the knowledge, skill and ability they needed to manage in this millennium. We often sought ways of patching together programs that would at least get them in the door, but these would lack focus and consistency. I wanted there to be one place where they could go to get some preliminary understandings of what they needed to know and what they needed to be able to do—hence, Managing on Purpose.
Q: What research did you do for this book?
I’ve read books over the years that have had a major impact on me. Foremost among these is Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’ve also read books by and attended seminars conducted by Aubrey Daniels, whom I see as the acknowledged expert in the U.S. on performance management. Rummler and Brache wrote a great book called IMPROVING PERFORMANCE: How to Manage the White Space on the Organization Chart, which had a major influence on me. Other writers such as David Allen, Jim Collins and Michael Gerber have provided excellent insights and information. What I consider to be one of the major books/ideas of the last 40 years is Competing Values Leadership by Cameron and Quinn. In addition to these and other management experts, thinkers and writers, my work as a Knowledge Manager for the HR database company iWorkwell Inc. requires that I stay current on all matters pertaining to Human Resources on an ongoing basis.
Q: How can this book help the reader?
A first-time, first line supervisor told me after reading the book, “Now I know what my job is.” I took that as a high compliment, because the book’s purpose is to give readers the full circumference, so to speak, of their key duties and responsibilities as managers.
Q: Who do you think would be most helped by or interested in your book?
Two groups. The first is first line supervisors, those who have been newly-placed into supervisory positions. The second group is comprised of all managers, all those charged with getting results through the efforts of others. People in this group have told me that the book is an excellent refresher and reminder of what they’re supposed to be doing.
Q: How is this book relevant to current events?
We’re living in the plugged-in generation. People are so wired to their jobs and other areas of interest and responsibility that I think they have trouble focusing. For their jobs at least, Managing on Purpose can ground them in the basics of what they need to focus on there. We are also living in the downsized generation, with fewer managers dealing with proportionately more people, so they (managers) need to have all their wits and talent about them.
How does this book put current events into historical perspective?
A chapter called “Management in Perspective” does what its name suggests, placing managers’ current situations with those managers encountered in the past. I go back perhaps 60 years and talk about life in post-war America, when foreign competition was basically non-existent, and managers perhaps didn’t need the full quivers of skills/abilities that they need now.
Q: What insight about future events might a reader of this book gain?
Technology is both boon and nightmare, and both of these dimensions will intensify in the years ahead. I dedicate a chapter to technology in Managing on Purpose, which naturally can’t bring everyone up to speed all at once, but I think it does supply a foundation for dealing with technology that will be useful . There’s also a chapter called “Facilitating Change” which also addresses this issue. Multitasking has become this generations watchword, and my chapter called “The Myth of Multitasking” gives readers an unsubtle idea of how I feel about it (it doesn’t exist). The future in general is going to require that managers do what the book as a whole recommends, manage on purpose. When the game speeds up, as ballplayers love to say, it’s all the more important to be able to achieve laser-like focus on the basics.
Q: What are you working on right now?
I might be half-finished with the second book in the Managing trilogy, whose title and basic purpose I want to keep close to my vest right now. I will tell you what the third book in the trilogy is called: Managing in the Spirit. The latter will be available in early 2014.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
I am handing my future as a writer over to the Wheatmark people, who are publishing the latest edition of Managing on Purpose for me, and who will handle the second and third books in the trilogy as well. Wheatmark is dragging me kicking and screaming into the current millennium, helping me especially with marketing in general, and with online marketing specifically. They’ve been endlessly insightful and valuable thus far.