Management Fable Delivers Solid Advice

 
 
By Peter MacIntyre  |  Posted 2002-10-14 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"Walk Softly and Carry a Big Idea" is a quick read that provides invaluable lessons for managers.

"Walk Softly and Carry a Big Idea" by Don Jones is without doubt the absolute best book on management techniques that I have ever read. The book is a fictitious tale about a man named Scott who has just moved his family to Toronto and has taken a new middle management job at a company called Replico. At the outset, Scott has agreed in consultation with his wife that he would have to spend a lot of extra time at the new job and that this would mean time away from her and their young son. Scott would try to be at work early and, in his attempts to be super-efficient, he would even time his short walk from where he parked his car until he arrived at his desk. He would try to improve or match his best time each day.
As the story progresses it becomes obvious that Scott is an overly controlling manager and, through his lack of trust in his employees abilities to perform their jobs well, he starts to see their resentments build. He is not getting the best efforts from them, and he doesnt know exactly why. Worse yet, he doesnt know how to fix the problem.
Jones develops the story very well and, as the reader sees the decisions that Scott makes, it becomes clear where the managers making mistakes. Eric enters the fable as a mysterious mentor to Scott and gently helps him to realize what a good manager can and should be doing. In the major exchange between these two characters, the overall message of the story is effectively brought home. Scott says: "It is not my job to provide meaning to my staff. I just need to get the job done. Thats it. Thats what Im paid for..."
Eric replies: "Every one of them, without exception, yearns to feel that their work has meaning, Scott. That the way they make their choices, direct their tasks, infuse their energy, spend their minutes, hours, days—their lives—makes a difference to others: to their colleagues, their employer, their customers, their families." The lessons to managers in this book are priceless. As well, the text is sprinkled with great quotations, such as this one from Malcom Forbes: "If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I will help you become that." Only 175 pages long, "Walk Softly" can be read within a weekend or a few days. Once the reader gets into the story, it becomes almost soap-opera-like in the sense that the reader wants to keep on going just to see what will happen next. I definitely recommend this book to all managers, new and seasoned. And at its reasonable price, you should think about making it required reading for anyone on your staff. Get it. Read it. Employ it. But most importantly, share it.
  • Title: Walk Softly & Carry a Big Idea
  • Author: Don Jones
  • Publisher: John Wiley (www.wiley.com)
  • Length: 175 pages (hardcover)
  • Price: $21.95
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