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All Hat and No Cattle: Tales of a Corporate…

All Hat and No Cattle: Tales of a Corporate Outlaw Shaking up the System…

by Chris Turner

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A year has passed and I don't remember anything I read, so I guess it was a pretty standard advice-book. However, the burden of the book (see the quote below) is certainly valid, although I have no idea if the author's solutions are viable, and the observations about the close-minded world at the top of the pyramid apply even more strongly to political parties and administrations, as has been abundantly evident since the book came out in 1999 (and are especially glaring in 2016).

Note: pg 4-5 (on being put in charge of organization and "empowerment strategy" after work experiences that could come straight out of the Dilbert comic strip) - "I spent the next four years experimenting with an unconventional approach to change and stewing about why organizations are such a mess. And here is the dirty little secret: All hat and no cattle. In Texas, that's how we describe anything that is all style and no substance. All hat and no cattle is corporate America's managerial archetype. Sure, there are lots of smart people and a handful of original thinkers -- and some of these folks manage to withstand having all their ideas and creativity beat out of them. But many of the gest and brightest get weeded out before reaching executive jobs." ( )
  librisissimo | Apr 2, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0738200964, Hardcover)

Your company is not a machine. It may make machines, or it may service them, but it is not, in itself, a machine. It's a living entity in an unpredictable world. This makes it nearly impossible to run a business organization effectively with a hierarchical, top-down management style. And yet, posits Chris Turner in All Hat and No Cattle, that's the way most companies try to do it. They may give lip service to other management styles, to open chains of communication and all that, but in reality these managers are "all hat and no cattle": they talk a good game, but in the end don't really have anything to back it up.

Turner is a veteran of Xerox. She was there when its corporate name was synonymous with photocopying, and when it had huge markets to itself, and she was still there when the Japanese turned the copying world upside down by being able to sell machines for less money than it took Xerox to manufacture them. So she's seen how a corporation's assumption about how the world works can get turned on its ear, and she thinks the lessons she learned at Xerox are applicable to any large company that's set in its ways. For example, she notes that very few people actually learn how to do anything by reading the instructions--only about 15 percent, according to a study she cites. Far more--61 percent--learn by trial and error, or through social interaction, or a combination of those two methods. And yet, most managers try to teach people to do things by showing them the instructions. "I wondered who learns from PowerPoint slide presentations," she writes. "The answer is nobody!" This is a book that nearly anyone who trains, teaches, or manages a staff can learn from. Some managers reading this book will see themselves reproduced in unflattering shades of black and white, but, hey, sometimes you have to look at yourself as others see you, unpleasant as that may be. --Lou Schuler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:30 -0400)

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