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Book Excerpt: Introduction
Here’s the basic premise for this book: virtually all business ills can be traced back to ineffective communication of some type.
It’s a case of true root cause analysis. Managers, as a general proposition—from entry level to CEOs—either don’t have the training or the discipline to follow problems back to the ultimate root cause and then successfully address them. Consequently, there’s a lot of dust created in an attempt to fix things (which, ironically, contributes to the overall problem), but little actually gets solved. In this book, you’ll get not only the necessary tools and insight to see the true root causes of problems, but methods to help with your discipline so that you can actually put the training to use instead of just talking about it. The result will be improved efficiency, effectiveness, and profits for the business and a calmer work life for you.
Identifying where the ineffective communication takes place is much like the Six Degrees of Separation game, which theorizes that any two people on earth are about six acquaintance links apart. You just need to find that path to connect them. For example, you can connect Kevin Bacon with Rudolf Valentino in this way: In 1922, Rudolph Valentino starred in the silent movie Beyond the Rocks with Gertrude Astor. Astor acted in Daddy Long Legs in 1955 alongside James Cromwell. Cromwell worked with Kevin Bacon in 2009 on Beyond All Boundaries.
In the same fashion, poor profits might be linked to dissatisfied customers, caused by technicians showing up late to do work, caused by order creators not providing/communicating correct customer order info to the techs.
Ineffective communication takes many, many different forms that can appear to the untrained eye as something other than a communication issue. The key to success is to have the realization that if you can’t associate the blame with some type of communication, then you haven’t dug deep enough.
In the movie Fallen with Denzel Washington, the demon Azazel can possess any person or animal merely by touching them. Throughout the movie, Arazel constantly transfers himself from person to person, shifting and manifesting himself in different forms as Detective John Hobbs chases and tries to kill him. Ineffective communication is like Arazel, constantly shifting and manifesting itself in different ways that has the end result of inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and low or negative profitability.
Communication is the transfer of information from one entity to another. Any time you have a transfer point, you have a potential point of failure. The reality is that in everyday business life, there are millions of instances of those potential points of failure, like person-to-person, department-to-department, team-to-department, etc. The goal is to minimize the percentage of times that failure occurs in order to make your working life easier and your business better.
The Universal Truths of Business Management:
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
1. Communication is the source that enables a society to form and exist. Without interaction between two people, those two people wouldn’t be able to inform and grow from each other. Society wouldn’t be able to develop beyond one person. By definition, interaction requires communication, regardless of what form that takes. A business is a society.
2. Everyone prioritizes; not everyone realizes they do or understands the consequences of that lapse.
3. As a general principle, something simpler is easier to do than something more complex.
4. The more you and your organization can stay in alignment with your business principles, the more your business will behave like your vision, whatever that might be.
If this is the first management book you’ve ever read, you’ve picked the right one to start. If you’ve read lots of management books, you’ll find this one’s different and will give you insights you may have never seen.
Whether you’re a C-level executive, a frontline employee, or any management in between, this book provides practical actions and perspectives that’ll open your eyes to a better way to work and manage.
This book is one that teaches you instead of tells you. One that contains fundamental, universal truths that few put into practice, but that all should. One that offers simple, practical techniques to put those truths into practice to help you gain more control over your work life.
What problems does this book solve? If you want to solve problems, the root cause of virtually all business problems comes down to a failure to execute on one of the four universal truths shown above. What are some common symptoms seen when one of these is in play? Among others, see if these sound familiar:
1. Daily fire drills
2. Frequently changing policy, structure, or pro-cess/procedure direction
3. Too busy to do your job
4. Overabundance of priorities
5. Low profitability
6. Inefficient operations
7. Ineffective operations
Do you find yourself jaded by most management books? Are they not really digestible? Do they give you lots of information, but little that you can put to use in real life? Seen enough four-box models and giant, graphic, curved arrows that connect pithy word bites in a circle to last you a lifetime?
Most management books have the look and feel of a college textbook, with bland writing, numerous charts, tables, figures, showy, splashy graphics without effect, diagrams, theoretical constructs, and more detail than you can possibly put into practice in your busy day. This book is presented from the perspective of a teacher with the intent to have the student truly understand, the flair of a novelist with the intent to entertain, and a businessman with the intent to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and profits. While this approach is somewhat unique in the field, make no mistake that this is a practical, put-it-to-use-now book. It uses a casual coaching conversation as the format versus a formal, textbook approach. It appeals to the everyman in most of us.
We won’t complicate things as can happen with management models like Lean, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, Just-in-Time, Quality Circles, or the Shingo Model for Operational Excellence. This book incorporates the best of all of those, but distills the information down to what you can actually and easily implement to make a real impact. What you’ll find are practical tools to meet the challenges of daily work life.
Unless you work for a company that’s been named a Top Ten Best Places to Work, this book will be of value to you. Even if you do work in one of those places (and congratulations if you do), Uncommon Sense Management will still give you more of what you need to continue on the path of continuous improvement.
This book explores the causes that are the real drivers—the root causes—of why people are too busy to do their jobs and why businesses as a whole have such a frantic, frenetic pace, jumping from one fire drill to another. This all drags efficiency, effectiveness, and profits down. At the center of those root causes is management. More specifically, poor management. Fix management and you fix everything because a company’s culture reflects leadership from the top down.
In their zeal to produce profits, management frequently focuses on the finance and neglects the people. What they’re missing is that it’s the people that ultimately feed the finances, whether the people are employees or customers. Consequently, when profit goals aren’t met, management gets frustrated at their inability to move the needle. A better plan is to find and fix the root causes of the things that feed (or don’t feed) the profit.
By the time you reach the end of the book (or even at the end of various paragraphs), you’ll feel empowered to take steps to improve your work situation. You’ll have the confidence needed to take informed action, no longer daunted by the ostensibly impossible task of finding time to do your job.