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.
Table of Contents
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
Dorner Manufacturing Corporation
It Seems That Downsizing Is the Result More of a Mind-Set than of Necessity
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?
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
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.