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Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency
by Tom DeMarco
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A quick, but powerful read. Tails off a little towards then end - I felt the section on risk management could have been dropped. However, really makes you question the value of some common wisdom around the practice of process improvement, efficiency and quality.A good antidote to the prevailing management groupthink; we should question the value of this stuff rather than accepting it blindly. This is a book that will make you think a little harder about decisions you make based on accepted best practice alone.
An informal and lighthearted argument against mindless efficiency. DeMarco's main claim is that a humane workplace makes business sense. It's a short and convincing book, but if it was half as long it'd be twice as good.
This is a great little book.
Highly recommended for anyone involved in knowledge work, particularly managing knowledge workers.
You can visit my work blog for my full review.
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (1)
If your company’s goal is to become fast, responsive, and agile, more efficiency is not the answer--you need more slack. Why is it that today’s superefficient organizations are ailing? Tom DeMarco, a leading management consultant to both Fortune 500 and up-and-coming companies, reveals a counterintuitive principle that explains why efficiency efforts can slow a company down. That principle is the value of slack, the degree of freedom in a company that allows it to change. Implementing slack could be as simple as adding an assistant to a department and letting high-priced talent spend less time at the photocopier and more time making key decisions, or it could mean designing workloads that allow people room to think, innovate, and reinvent themselves. It means embracing risk, eliminating fear, and knowing when to go slow. Slack allows for change, fosters creativity, promotes quality, and, above all, produces growth. With an approach that works for new- and old-economy companies alike, this revolutionary handbook debunks commonly held assumptions about real-world management, and gives you and your company a brand-new model for achieving and maintaining true effectiveness.
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And mostly he writes about slack: that extra bit of time to think, to re-invent, to create and communicate, that extra bit of resources that you need to adjust quickly to changing environments.
By being too efficient (going somewhere fast), we sometimes forget about being effective (where are we going?) -- quoting Yogi Berra, he observes "We're lost, but we're making good time." ( )