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I'm Sorry I Broke Your Company

Book Description

It’s the People, Stupid! Karen Phelan is sorry. She really is. She tried to do business by the numbers—the management consultant way—developing measures, optimizing processes, and quantifying performance. The only problem is that businesses are run by people. And people can’t be plugged into formulas or summed up in scorecards. Phelan dissects a whole range of consulting treatments for unhealthy companies and shows why they’re essentially fad diets: superficial would-be fixes that don’t result in lasting improvements and can cause serious damage. With a mix of clear-eyed business analysis, heart-wrenching stories, and hard-won lessons for both consultants and the people who hire them, this book is impossible to put down and impossible to ignore. Karen Phelan and other consultants may have “broken” your company, but she’s eager to make amends. “Finally, an author challenging our broken management models who has credibility—she has been there. Karen Phelan not only explains why the emperor—our sacred ways of managing—has no clothes but provides us with insightful alternatives that promise to add real value to our organizations and the people that make them function.” —Dean Schroeder, award-winning coauthor of Ideas Are Free “Funny, irreverent, and outrageous, this book is making a deeply serious point: talking to actual people and figuring out how to help them work together better is what’s going to make organizations stronger, not another PowerPoint presentation.” —Rosina L. Racioppi, President and CEO, Women Unlimited, Inc.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Contents
  5. Preface
  6. Introduction
  7. Why I blame management consultants
  8. About this book
  9. 1. Strategic Planning Can’t Predict the Future: Strategy Development Is a Vision Quest
    1. The downside of having a strategy is missed opportunities
    2. Managing by the numbers only manages the numbers
    3. Predicting the future is risky business
    4. Planning for the future and predicting the future are not the same thing
  10. 2. Make Sure You Reengineer the People, Too: Optimized Processes Only Look Good on Paper
    1. Having people to rely on for improvements is all you really need
    2. People should manage the methods and not the methods manage the people
    3. In a human-created world, most of the problems are created by humans
    4. It’s hard to optimize a person
  11. 3. Metrics Are the Means, Not the Ends: Numerical Targets Are Measure-mental
    1. Everything gets measured all the time
    2. It’s funny how the targets are always met
    3. Measures create conflict where there normally is none
    4. Take a goal you want and turn it into something you don’t
  12. 4. Standardized Human Asset Management Is a SHAM: How Performance Management Demoralizes the Performers
    1. Performance management systems only enforce the strategic objective of implementing performance management systems
    2. No amount of effort will ensure fairness in a process that is inherently unfair
    3. Let me tell you what I like and don’t like about you
    4. We’re not only in it for the money
  13. 5. I Am a Manager, and So Can You: Why Is the Successful Manager’s Handbook 609 Pages Long?
    1. There’s no shortage of management models and techniques
    2. How I inadvertently managed to manage
    3. Being a good manager isn’t all that different from being a good person
  14. 6. Stop Perpetrating Talent Management on People: Albert Einstein Was Not an A player
    1. Let’s stop sorting out the ABCs
    2. Performance is situational
    3. The problem with labels is that labels stick
    4. Sometimes the A players are alienated by this system, too
    5. The Peter Principle is not a joke
    6. We are pushing people toward mediocrity
    7. Fit the jobs to the people, not the people to the boxes
  15. 7. Great Leaders Don’t Fit the Models: Steve Jobs Failed My Leadership Competencies
    1. The ongoing debate: What traits make a leader?
    2. If traits don’t make a leader, what are leadership assessments assessing?
    3. We use teams because one person can’t be good at everything
    4. Trying to be good at everything is the way to achieve mediocrity
    5. There is no recipe or checklist for self-actualization
  16. 8. Out of the Boxes, Charts, and Spreadsheets: How to Think Without Consultants
    1. Management is not a science
    2. How to think better
    3. How to think about working with consultants
  17. Conclusion
  18. Notes
  19. Resources
    1. Resource A: A Measure of Truth
    2. Resource B: The Method of Truth
    3. Resource C: Bibliography
  20. Acknowledgments
  21. Index
  22. About the Author