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Book Review of: The Rules of Management

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A Definitive Code for Managerial Success

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Review of The Rules of Management, by Author (Softcover, 2011)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.

This book is a real jewel. Unless you have absolutely no responsibilities, you can consider this a "must read."

I graduated at the top of my MBA class, and worked for several years as a middle manager. Many of the rules that Templar presents are just (un)common sense. The rules he presents are, in my opinion, ones that every manager should adopt. This book is a wonderful guide for managers and executives. But it's also a wonderful guide for people who don't work in management; they are, whether they like it or not, the managers of their own career. These rules will help them deal with the often dysfunctional cultures of the workplace.

Templar has hit these rules spot on, as far as I am concerned. This is the stuff of which great managers are made, and you can have it too.

Some of these are rules I had right out of the starting gate. Most are ones I learned the hard way. Some of these rules are ones that, in hindsight, I wish I had known at the time I broke them. Some are rules that I practiced solo because I knew that was the right course, even if it was the toughest one.

Fortunately, I learned some of these rules from gracious mentors or from just watching competent managers and how they behaved. So my advice to the reader is to use Templar's book as your basis and watch how well-respected leaders and managers behave. Another tip I have is to find someone (ideally, two levels up from your current position) to mentor you. This need not be someone in your company or even in your industry. Plenty of retirees have a lifetime of wisdom; seek it out.

Templar could have included other rules and dropped some from this particular mix. But I like his choices. I can't think of one that would replace one he listed and improve the book in so doing.

One rule that can make a huge difference in how you are perceived is Rule #91: Don't criticize other managers. I might amend this to "Don't criticize other people," but in this instance Templar has specific reasons for limiting this to other managers. One motivation to criticize other managers is they are doing things you don't like. There are constructive ways to handle that, so criticism is unnecessary. Criticizing other managers is a loser's game. And most likely, you will lose chances of promotion or even your job for doing this. Yet, this is a very common practice.

The rules can also make you much more productive. For example, consider Rule #42: Know what you are supposed to be doing. People spend a huge amount of their limited resources on the wrong things. Those who accomplish much do that by focusing their resources on the right things.

This book presents 107 rules in 223 pages. Each rule is presented as a min-chapter. Templar states the rule, then explains why it matters. His explanations typically present examples from his own experience.

The writing is simple and clear, just as the communication from any manager should be. Templar does makes some grammatical errors, but he's clear nonetheless.

I find it interesting that typical MBA writing is complex and obfuscating, by contrast. One of my MBA professors fought an uphill battle in trying to get all of us to write clearly. He was of the opinion that, if you know what you're doing, you don't have to hide your writing. Templar's book is an object lesson in this principle.

Add it to your library, sure. Read it once, sure. But why stop there? Here's a suggestion:

Make a list of ten managers you know (add to this frequently, though). They don't have to be in your company. Maybe they are in your trade or professional organization. Tell them you are forming a group that is going to meet for dinner one evening per month. This will last for 107 months. At each meeting, someone will read that month's rule and Templar's explanation to the group. Then you'll discuss the meaning of that, how to apply it, examples where that worked for you, and so forth.

Once you get 10 people onboard, contact a restaurant (or hotel or casino) about reserving a room for dinner and a meeting afterwards. You can manage this, of course. So do it!




About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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