Marco's Blog

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First, Break All the Rules

2003-12-15 2 min read Books marco

Have you ever read a book that seemed to say the obvious, but whose words of wisdom you then started using as a day-to-day framework to explain to others what seemed so obvious to you?
Well, “First, Break All the Rules” is a book like that. It explains how management should be handled, and more importantly how it should NOT be handled, and takes a stand against Dilbertism of all kinds. Should seem obvious, but Dilbertism is quite entrenched in a lot of corporations, and a book with a lot of quotable sentences comes in handy.
To the content: Gallup is famous as a polling company. They have been polling a lot of employees of companies, though, and provided management support services by creating cross-sections of best practices. This book is the summary of that experience.
There are a few surprising results that come out this book. The very first one is that the immediate manager of anyone is the main focus of attention. If you like the way you are managed, you will like the company you work for, and vice versa. This means that all the best speeches from upper management are worth nothing unless they change the behavior of your manager.
The second thing that is really surprising is that the best management style is to reward the able and to punish the unable and lazy. That hardly seemed surprising to me, until I worked myself under a manager that thought everybody is entitled to the same treatment.
With these two pearls, I pretty much summarized the book. Everything else is a list of examples of managers and their real life interaction with their managed. And of course an enormous list of validation. Lots of quotables, as mentioned, will help you get through your day. Whether it’s worth it, your choice. I found the book way overpriced and wished they had a softcover edition.