A couple of years ago I read The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard on the recommendation of a tester on my team. As The One Line Reviewer I might write that it’s an encouragement to do some generally reasonable things (set clear goals, monitor progress towards them, and provide precise and timely feedback) wrapped up in a parable full of clumsy prose and sprinkled liberally with business aphorisms.
Last week I was lent a copy of The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey, one of what is clearly a not insubstantial franchise that’s grown out of the original book. Unsurprisingly perhaps, given that it is part of a successful series, this book is similar to the first: another shop floor fable, more maxims, some sensible suggestions.
On this occasion, the advice is to do with delegation and, specifically, about managers who pull work to themselves rather than sharing it out. I might summarise the premise as:
- Managers, while thinking they are servicing their team, may be blocking them.
- The managerial role is to maximise the ratio of managerial effort to team output.
- Which means leveraging the team as fully as possible.
- Which in turn means giving people responsibility for pieces of work.
And I might summarise the advice as:
- Specify the work to be done as far as is sensible.
- Make it clear who is doing what, and give work to the team as far as is sensible.
- Assess risks and find strategies to mitigate them.
- Review on a schedule commensurate with the risks identified.
And I might describe the underlying conceit as: tasks and problems are monkeys to be passed from one person’s back to another. (See Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?) And also as: unnecessary.
So, as before, I liked the book’s core message – the advice, to me, is a decent default – but not so much the way it is delivered. And, yes, of course, I should really have had someone read it for me.