A management book which can be read in one evening, can have you laughing out loud, and yet can make you squirm with discomfort when you relate to one of its pithy put-downs? This is the book.
A quick scan through the list of 122 ‘f/laws’ and you might be forgiven for wondering what might be wrong with some of the statements. Yet section 2 gives Russell L Ackoff’s rationale for disputing the age-old tenets of management and provides the reader with a series of ‘light-bulb moments’.
The government, committees, CEOs, family businesses, leadership development courses and business schools in particular – nothing escapes his caustic criticism. “Bureaucracy – doing as little as possible is the best strategy for avoiding detectable errors”. “Business school are high security prisons of the mind”; “The amount of time a committee wastes is directly proportional to its size…”
However beneath the humour lies the experience of Ackoff who has often been ranked as one of the world’s most influential business thinkers.
I usually put a bookmark in at the pages to which I want to refer in a review. There are only 140 pages and I find I have bookmarked 30 of them for revisiting – a testament to the power of this collection of quotes.
It’s a quick injection of light relief from tedious tomes. However if you really examine its erudite content it should provide longer-term immunisation against trotting out the same old management mantras. I would recommend it any manager in any industry and at any level, with the humility and power for self-reflection to consider some of his comments and solutions. I defy any manager to say they haven’t done or seen at least one of those situations explored!