November 5th 2007

Strategy and the Fat Smoker. Doing what’s obvious but not easy. David Maister.

Strategy and the Fat Smoker. Doing what’s obvious but not easy. David Maister. 2007. ISBN 9780979845703. This is a wonderfully useful book for anyone in a management role. The core thesis is like observing a fat smoking doctor. How could a professional who knows better get that way? From there David explores all the various aspects of knowing what needs doing but not doing it. This is so easily written, clear and articulate I defy you not to see yourself in these pages. I had th ebenefit of reading segments of this on David’s blog, and in small doses it was very powerful stuff. A case in point.. How many of you have commissioned a training program for yoor staff based on activities they seem to have trouble doing? Have you gone through a whole process of seeing if the company monitors, encourages and rewards the behavior? Do people want to do this? Do they know how to do this? Do they have the skills to implement and execute at this. Prior to the training do you know why they are not doing this? Here is the killer , ” Too often training is seena s an inexpensive way for a manager to look like they are doing something?

The chapter on hiring a leader is priceless. David suggests creating a list of either/or attributes and selecting those that the selection team wants. Eg Do you want/need a leader who is good with numbers versus good with people? Is a pragmatist vs a visionary? Is very self-confident vs is humble? Is primarily a hard head vs. primarily a soft heart? The list is extensive and his process really inspired. Buy it, read it , and get others in your management team a copy. So far its available for pre-order in the US.

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