1st Edition

Out of the Box Thinking for Successful Managers

By William Roth Copyright 2015
    229 Pages
    by Productivity Press

    During the author’s decades of experience consulting in the corporate world and teaching management theory at the university level, he has often questioned many modern-day management practices. For example, why do so many companies have evaluation and reward systems that force employees to compete against each other while these same organizations preach the gospel of cooperation and teamwork? Why do companies continue to downsize when this practice has proven antithetical to long-term success?

    Out of the Box Thinking for Successful Managers explains, in a user-friendly and sometimes humorous manner, why these practices are based on worn-out logic in some cases and complete falsehoods in others. Questioning numerous management practices that have been popular for decades, it details their weaknesses and explains why they continue to hamper attempts to improve productivity.

    The book reviews a range of management theories, including Six Sigma, downsizing, and management by objective. After showing where the holes lie, it offers alternative approaches that have proven effective in a growing number of private and public sector organizations, including some that enable a more positive workplace culture.

    Illustrating practical application with case studies, the book provides simple suggestions for change that can be highly beneficial to your organization. It addresses the major myths that managers need to examine and eventually do away with or, at least, replace with modified versions that make more sense in today’s increasingly competitive business environment.

    Six Sigma: Or, Here We Go Again
    Birth of the Mechanist and Human Relations Schools of Thought: The Battle Begins
    Deming and the Systems Approach: Why, Indeed, Is Nobody Listening?
    Hammer and Reengineering, or, Once Again with Feeling
    Six Sigma, the Latest Kid on the Block
         Not Much Has Really Changed
    The Alternative and Why We Refuse to Take It Seriously

    Downsizing: The Cure That Can Kill
    The Many Dark Sides of Downsizing
    Alternative Strategies for Cutting Costs
         Nugget Market
         Dorner Manufacturing Corporation
    It Seems That Downsizing Is the Result More of a Mind-Set than of Necessity
         Lincoln Electric
         International Paper’s Louisiana Mill Goes All the Way
    Maybe as a Last Resort

    The Myth That Competition in the Workplace Is the Best Way to Increase Productivity
    Getting the Necessary Definitions in Place
    Now, a Really Simple Proof That Will Make Tough Guys’ Blood Boil
    Sad but True
    Where Does It Come From?
    The Cult of the Coney Island Hot Dog
    Rationalizations Pile On
    What Do the Psychologists Say Concerning the Roots of This Behavior?
    It’s Going to Take Radical Therapy
    New World Thinking

    Is It Possibly Time for Management by Objective to Bite the Dust?
    MBO as a Starting Point
    Challenges of a Rapidly Changing Workplace
    Why MBO No Longer Belongs at the Table
    Once Again, What Is the Alternative?
    W. L. Gore
    Bidding Farewell to a Player whose Time Has Passed

    Get Rid of Performance Appraisals
    Largely a Waste of Time?
    Real Criteria
    To Make Matters Far Worse
    Why It Doesn’t Work
    The Way It Should Be Done
         Coming Up with Something New
         A World without Performance Evaluations
    If There Is a Better Way, Why, Then

    Doing It Wrong: Or, How Can Quality Improvement Efforts Possibly Get So Screwed Up?
    Off to a Bad Start
         Going the Individualized Route
         The Rock and the Hard Place
         Planning as a Threat
         A Little Dab of Intrigue to Spice Things Up

    Doing It Right: Or, Moving Beyond the Baldrige
    The Ideal: What We Need to Aim For
    Partial Empowerment Just Doesn’t Cut It
    Putting All the Things Together into a Model That Works
    Ground Rules as the Catalyst
    Now That We’ve Talked about What Should Happen, Let’s Talk about What Really Happens
    Crosby Gives Them What They Want
    Should We Call This Success?
    The Baldrige: A Good Starting Point, but Still Not Biting the Bullet
         How It’s Done: Or, Stars in Their Eyes
    Why the Baldrige Will Never Produce the Desired Long-Term Results
    Organizations Tend to Crumble without True Integration

    Who Makes the Most Productive Executive?
    Making Sure That Employees Earn Their Salary
    Another Alternative
    Personality or Training?
    From Bully to Technology Expert
    From Technology Expert to People Expert
    Can Left-Brain Thinkers Demonstrate Right-Brain Talents?
    Where the Real Problem Lies

    How to Design More Profitable Businesses
    Turning Support Functions into Profit Centers
    The Three-Tiered Reward System Finds a Home The Circular Organization Management Systems Design
    Modified Task Force Rules
    Planning from a Systems Perspective

    The Matter of Ethics
    Sounds Good, But
    And the Really Hard Part Is
    Employees Would Be a Lot Easier to Deal with if They Weren’t So Damn Human
    So, How Do We Figure This Thing Out?
    The Tie-In between Systems Theory and Ethics
    The Missing Piece

    Replacing the Protestant Work Ethic with the Development Ethic
    What Exactly Is Work?
    Back to the Work Ethic
         Martin Luther to the Rescue
         The Paycheck Takes Center Stage
         Still Not Good Enough
    Development Ethic as an Alternative
    Development Ethic Generates Commitment to Improved Productivity
    It Is Time for a Change

    Training for the Modern Age
    Getting Down to It with Empowerment
    But, Hey, It Still Works Pretty Well
    But How Do We Change This Scenario?
    It Really Does Make Sense, and Saves Money to Boot
    All Sorts of Benefits, Big and Small

    Is a Better Approach to Improving Safety Possible?
    Here’s How It’s Done and What’s Wrong with the Approach
    Getting beyond the Hustle
    Another Way to Deal with Safety Issues
    Worth a Try?

    Unions: From Leadership to Playing Catch-Up
    Birth and Rebirth of the Union Movement in the United States
    Why Unions Began to Lose Their Clout
    Where the Real Battle Lies
    Too Much Focus on Local Issues?
    Need for Universal Healthcare as a Starting Point
    Out-of-Control Executive Compensation as a Second Focus
    Technology: Friend or Foe?
    Back into the Lead

    Reinterpreting the Concept of Laissez-Faire Economics
    With the Help of Adam Smith the British Get the Ball Rolling
    Putting the Emphasis in the Wrong Place
    Laissez Faire Adapted to the Modern-Day Workplace
    A New Start?



    William F. Roth, PhD is currently a professor at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and a Senior Fellow at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses in strategic planning, organization design, and management theory. Previously he taught for sixteen years at DeSales University (Center Valley, Pennsylvania).

    Dr. Roth earned his PhD in social systems sciences at the Wharton School, his master’s degree in social work at the University of Pennsylvania, and his bachelor’s degree in economic geography at Dartmouth College. As a management consultant, Dr. Roth has worked on design and regional planning projects in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mexico, with The Drucker Foundation, the Deming Institute, the Association for Quality and Participation, and with a number of major corporations. Previously, he spent five years with the Poverty Program and the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South. Dr. Roth has authored six books, as well as more than 50 articles in a wide range of professional journals. His published works include: Quality Improvement: A Systems Perspective (1998), CRC Press; The Roots and Future of Management: A Systems Perspective (1999), CRC Press; Ethics in the Workplace: A Systems Perspective (2005), Pearson; The Evolution of Management Theory: Past, Present, Future, (1994), CRC Press; A Systems Approach to Quality Improvement (1991), Praeger; and Comprehensive Healthcare for the U.S.: An Idealized Model, (2010), CRC Press. He also writes fiction and has published several prize-winning short stories.