Does Your Business Model Need to Make a Shift In Its Management? [Book Review]


under new management

Author David Burkus is a rising star in a new generation of management guru’s. He is a best-selling author, an award-winning podcaster, and an associate professor of management at Oral Roberts University. He is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review and Forbes, and a consultant to all kinds of organizations, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, Burkus is also listed on the 2016 “On the Radar” category for the Thinkers50 global ranking of management thinkers.

In his new book Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual, Burkus tackles long held assumptions of the marketplace and explains what really works for getting the right thigs done in this new information age. Beginning with an introduction, that mentions Frederick Taylor’s scientific management, a system of thought that dominated the industrial revolution, Burkus goes on to explain how business, along with the rest of the world, has experienced rapid change at all levels of commerce and the marketplace.

Using corporate examples such as Carnegie Steel, Whole Foods, Zappos, and Netflix among others, Burkus presents a new way of thinking that is much more representative of the globally interconnected, technology driven, and creatively unique style of business in our current modern age.

Targeting assumed “best-practices” related to email, hiring, performance appraisals, teamwork, and professional burnout amid other highly relevant topics, Burkus turns traditional wisdom on its head, and offers a new, and in many ways, artistic style of business and leadership for the 21st Century.

Throughout his book, Burkus quotes various research, shares personal observations, and mentions the ideas of management icons like Gary Hamel, Howard Shultz, Herb Kelleher, and my personal hero, Peter Drucker, known as the “Father of Modern Management” –a very different, yet related, form of the “new” management that Burkus describes.

Additionally the author shows his cultural awareness by referencing as diverse examples as former megachurch pastor, Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill church in Seattle, Washington, to the TED movement, consulting giant, McKinsey & Company, Stanford Business School, the Gallup research organization, and Microsoft.

Two of my favorite chapters, include, Chapter 4: Pay People to Quit. Where the concept of paying recruits and new hires to leave the company, an innovate practice made popular by Zappos and adopted by other companies, illustrates the priority of creating the right culture for Zappos, a personal mission, and perhaps borderline paranoia, of CEO Tony Hsieh.

The other insight comes from Chapter 12: Fire the Managers, in which the thesis is that “Managerless Means Everyone is a Manager”. I especially enjoyed this axiom because it highlights the need for empowerment and cultivating employee responsibility. When everyone is a “manager”, team members have instilled within them a special kind of ownership for their work that is reflected in a true commitment to each other as well as an understanding of how their activities contribute to the organization’s overall purpose, thus eliminating the micromanager or business dictator boss we all hate.

Other paradigm busting insights include prioritizing employees over customers, eliminating time wasters and redundant maintenance, and being open about salary information.

For readers who are sick and tired of the traditional command and control mantra of old management and resonate with the collaborative and culturally creative style of teaching, similar to authors and thought leaders like Dan Ariely, Adam Grant, and Dan Pink, then Under New Management will be right up their alley. An insightful and engaging book, which I can’t recommend highly enough.

adam grant endorsement, Under New Man.

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