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Robert Heller is himself a prolific author of management books. The first, The Naked Manager, published in 1972, established Heller as an iconoclastic, extensive guide to managerial excellence -- and incompetence. Heller has drawn on the extensive knowledge of managers and management that he acquired as the founding editor of Management Today, Britain's leading business magazine, which he headed for 25 years. Books such as The Super managers and In Search of European Excellence address the ways in which the latest ideas on change, quality, and motivation are providing new routes to business success. In 1990 Heller wrote Culture Shock, one of the first books to describe how IT would revolutionize management. Since then, as writer, lecturer, and consultant, Heller has continued to tell managers how to "Ride the Revolution," the title of his 2000 book, written with Paul Spenley. His books for Dorling Kindersley's Essential Managers series are international bestsellers. His first book, The Naked Manager, passed into the language with its iconoclastic attack on false scientific management. The Fusion Manager came some 50 books later and moved Sir John Harvey-Jones to write: "The future lies with the thinking manager, and the thinking manager must read this book". Robert Heller speaks frequently to management audiences - both in-company and general - on many subjects. He has worked all over the world with many of its leading companies.
The basic concept of the book is that how a true manager acts in different situations that would benefit the manager himself as well as the organization. The phrase "Games Executives Play" refers to the manager's actions in order to survive in the business world. The book contains 5 major subheadings namely power games, money games, board games, war games & shell games. It clearly tells us that the manager plays these games in the organization.
Robert Heller has dedicated this book, The Naked Manager to all those executives who did the right thing for the wrong reason, and were acclaimed as geniuses and heroes; and to all those who did the wrong thing for the right, the wrong, or no reason at all and still hold their overpaid jobs.
The Naked manager tries to answer questions such as: What is the secret of business success? Why do some executives lead their companies to riches and others thrust theirs into the hands of the receiver? The author takes a new look at the experience and the examples of the past decade. The book's management lessons are as relevant for the multi-million dollars company executive as they are for the independent businessman, or his most junior manager.
The Naked Manager ridicules the system of scientific management: the idea that some general body of laws and rules existed, as in engineering that could be applied universally by anybody who had received the necessary education, by an MBA from a leading business school.
All these ideas had some importance, often in large amounts. They were all put into practice by overselling and by under-use. That is, the top managements who were oversold on the concept climbed eagerly up to achieve new heights when, having expected too much, they lost their footing, they and the company simply moved on to a different slope.
This concept opened up a whole new area for the consultants and academics: 'culture change.' You can change culture, but only by changing practice i.e. when you do something, e.g. your company is facing losses and you are the only hope of the company, you take a very sensible action and take your company out of that crisis, so you need act exactly in the same way again and again in the same scenarios
The book emphasizes on the games that a manager plays in the organization. Firstly, power games. The manager plays power games in order to gain power and to make himself as close as possible to power and authority. Secondly, Money games refer to the actions took by managers that would maximize profits of the company.
Money games played by managers are very important because the top most priority of the organization is to make profit. So, managers play money games in order to attain acceptable gains. Thirdly, board games, these refer to the behavior of managers within the organization.
"War games" is another subheading and it signifies the major actions took by managers in order to achieve more than the competitors and the ways to achieve greater profits than its rivals. War games reflect the aggressive attitude of the managers. Lastly, "shell games" is portrayed as a gambling game.
In the era of unequaled competitive cut and thrust, those who don't thrust stand a strong chance of being cut into pieces. That's why thrusters and non-thrusters alike need to ponder the myths of management and its realities more than ever before.
Management as a discipline has developed more since 1970 than in its entire previous history, to judge by the outpouring of new, or supposedly new, theories and programmes. One leading American guru, Richard Pascale, has a wonderful graph entitled 'Ebbs, Flows and Residual Impact of Business Fads 1955-1990.' It resembles a mountain range, with a small peak in 1970 (with management by Objectives), a valley lasting until 1975, and then a Himalayan eruption of two dozen nostrums, culminating in today's (or possibly yesterday's) reengineering.
Nobody expects another valley. Already new concepts are climbing up the charts, like 'virtuality' or 'globalism.' But how much has management truly changed since the early 1970s? That was when I published The Naked Manager, which became one of those management books whose memory lingers on.
The book debunked the cult of scientific management: the idea that some general body of laws and rules existed, as in engineering, which could be applied universally by anybody who had received the necessary education - certified, of course, by an MBA from a leading business school. Over the years, the debunking became conventional wisdom: the management Emperor had no clothes (hence the nakedness). But that didn't stop the outpouring of pseudo-science, from zero base budgeting to MBWA (management by walking about, in case you didn't know).
All these ideas had some merit, often in large amounts. They were all marred in practice by overselling and by under-use. That is, the top managements who were oversold on the concept (by consultants and academics, often one and the same) climbed eagerly up the fashionable height: when, having expected too much, they lost their footing, they and the company simply moved on to a different slope. The theory and practice never became embedded in 'the way we do things round here' - or the corporate culture.
Naturally, that opened up a whole new area for the consultants and academics: 'culture change.' You can change culture, but only by changing practice. Why else would a culture need reformation?
The object must be to improve the practical performance of the business in radical measure. And it's obvious, as The Naked Manager rammed home, that effectiveness is the only useful measure of cultural excellence. The difference between 1985 and 1995 is that this truism has been recognized and put into practice by a wide range of managements.
Oddly enough, the principle is best illustrated by one of the most abused concepts: Total Quality Management. Quality didn't figure in the 1985 revision: nor was it among the attributes of Excellence in the famous Peters-Waterman bestseller.
A few companies like Xerox were stepping out along the TQM road, after swallowing the indigestible truths about Japan's huge advantages in productivity, quality and costs. By 1995, TQM had swollen to a worldwide movement, involving thousands of companies - and has perhaps passed its peak, judging by the usual outbreak of critical onslaughts and stories of failure.
But the TQM philosophy is unassailable. It holds that you should constantly and continuously seeking to improve measurably all the elements of the business. That demands a top-down/bottom-up process that enlists the full powers of everybody in the business system (including top management and suppliers).
The company thus develops a culture that optimizes the satisfaction of the three vital interests: the investors, the employees and the customers. The philosophy works backwards from the latter. To delight the customers, you require highly satisfied employees, and the combination produces results that over joy the investors.
Forget TQM. Every guru now advocates one version or another of this bundle of beliefs. And almost every management at least pays lip-service to the theory, and most try to implement at least part of its tenets. But partial adoption is deeply inadequate.
For example, if middle managers don't fully understand the strategic plan, so research has shown, the company will lose out on productivity, quality - and profits. The concept of the business as a system, each of whose parts affects the whole, is changing the way that top management thinks and goes about its work - in the best companies, that is.
The Naked Manager thus required some major changes to reflect this shift from scientific to humanistic management. The previous versions had advocated this shift, but today practice is following preaching. Scientific method provides the tools (like those of statistical quality control) which help people to improve their work: but it's their work, and the more they feel and act as owners, the better the results will be.
The first of these ends with a regrettable but inevitable caveat: 'All managers say they want to work with people at all levels who are self-motivated, team-working achievers in an innovative environment that isn't averse to risk, embraces change and is action-oriented. That's what managers say. Most even know what must be done to achieve this outcome. But they don't actually do it.' That's why those 'failed' TQM programmes didn't succeed - because they will fell short of the need.
One reason is highlighted in the second essay, entitled 'One Thing Doesn't Change.' That thing is the dominance of the financial imperative: 'However much today's top managers preach non-financial virtues...they still practice in the same way as yesterday's money-grubbers.
Earnings per share and price per share are the goals and the goads. When the chips are down, it's only the chips that count - even if some are counterfeit.' As the customer-employee-investor chain determines, superior financial performance follows superior business performance. Put the finance first, and it may well come up last.
Companies complain (incessantly) of short-termism in the City of London or on Wall Street. But the institutional investors don't set quarterly profit goals for managers or berate them 9and even fire the worst offenders) for not 'making their numbers.' The top management is the guilty short-termist party. The third introductory essay, though, pointed out that boardroom dominance 'is being undermined by a universal and insidious force: the IT network.
'Paradoxically, the information technology which seems to offer senior management greater control is actually going to place increased power and freedom in the hands of their juniors.' The 'virtuality' mentioned earlier refers in part to the operation (now often essential) of systems that operate, not only across internal boundaries, but across corporate borders: 'Once the networks are linked, chief executives are locked into partnership with key people who don't work for them': but who relate primarily 'to their associates, inside and outside the firm.'
That's likely to be true, moreover, across international boundaries. As the fourth introduction observed, developing 'genuine global dynamism' - which global markets obviously demand - isn't going to be easy. But 'developing individual managers who can think and operate across frontiers' isn't a need for the future: like the spread of the IT networks, it's happened and its further advance in inevitable; 'the new generation of managers has been born global. Their employing organizations have a simple choice: keep in step, or stumble into obscurity.'
That stark choice has become obvious to all but the most purblind managements, which explains why Pascale's mountain of panaceas has risen so high. As the final introduction says, there are no panaceas: but any chosen technique won't work unless these rules are followed: 'First, aim high and system-wide, providing a strategic vision which will give process changes the required direction and leverage. Second, insist that all senior managers believe and participate in the chosen approach. Third, seek and win large, revolutionary changes fast; but within, fourth, the context of a long-term commitment to evolutionary change.'
That's how the best management has changed, and is changing, in ways that are not only fundamental, but are highly promising, both for organizations and the individuals who work in them. In fact, that's the essence of the new emphasis: that individual achievement is the key to collective success.
But other fundamentals still apply - the same basics that underlined the original book's onslaught on pseudo-scientific management. The laws of economics and those of human psychology operate unceasingly: and all three versions of The Naked Manager end the same way:
'Ponder how it is that the Quakers and similar deeply religious gentry made so much wordly lucre. It was because they treated their people honestly and decently, worked hard and honestly themselves spent honestly and saved pennies, honestly put more back into the company than they took out, made honestly good products, gave honest value for money and, being honest, told no lies. the naked manager can never find better clothes.'
Heller's acerbic, wide-ranging critique of management as ""pseudo-science"" is notable on many counts, not the least of which is its generally dim view of ""big-bang theory,"" i.e., that there are simple solutions to the typically complex problems involved in running any organization.
As a starting point, the author (editor of Management Today, an English business publication) argues that management, like the emperor's clothes, does not exist. About the only thing winning companies actually have in common, he concludes, is their success, which may well not last.
In support of his contrarian stand, Heller offers a wealth of anecdotal evidence which identifies most errant enterprises by name. He contends, for example, that domination by apparatchiks ""grown old in service and traditions"" prevents many great companies from capitalizing on their ""innate superiority.""
Along similar lines, he notes, preoccupation with marketing, diversification via acquisition, long-range planning, purposeless innovation, recruitment of B-school grads, and other trendy pursuits can dissipate corporate resources to the great disadvantage of their true owners.
While resolutely anti-authoritarian, Heller does advance a Decalogue of Peter-like principles--e.g., ""All good management is the expression of one great idea."" Insofar as he expresses a viewpoint, the author is pro-shareholder: ""Think before you act; it's not your money."" He casts a cold eye on, among other things, generous compensation policies with scant correlation to corporate performance, gimmicky accounting practices that paint an unduly bright picture of financial results, and studies by presumptively independent consultants which endorse dubious asset allocations.
There's also an antic chapter equating the remarkable continuity and solidarity of top management teams (including directors) with organizational aspects of the Mafia (whose prosperity owes much to the code of silence), plus myth-mocking probes of 18-hour workdays, risk-taking, and publicly held ventures that are the equivalent of one-man bands.
Cautionary commentary from a knowledgeable observer (convinced that managerial capabilities are invariably less than any organization's real needs), this provides a refreshing counterpoint to the current spate of reassuringly prescriptive guides.
Heller offers a highly critical and unabashed view of corporate management (or what passes for management.) He gives a clear cut concept of a manager and the tasks he performs in the organization. He draws a clear picture of the manager and shows that a manager doesn't have clothes, which means that he has mentioned the essence of becoming a true manager and by doing so he has made a manager naked.
If you're a business student or freshly minted MBA, this will wipe away the naivate and introduce you to the real world of mismanagement.
While a bit dated, (1986) Heller provides many entertaining examples of management hubris and blunders from around the world that will hopefully illuminate some blind spots for new managers. You'll walk away a little wiser, and much less impressed with the senior executives at your company.
Leaders learn the "bare essentials" for creating relationships that induce confidence and results. Light hearted approach gives new hope to managers who want to be more. It serves a source of motivation rather than a de motivator.
The Naked Manager helps today's managers make larger sense of critical human dynamics and the role they play in the turbulent corporate game. Because the corporate world is quite unpredictable and anything can happen in a matter of seconds, so this book enables the managers to be initially prepared to face such situations
After reading 'The Naked Manager', you'll be better prepared to take on the challenges presented to management in today's corporate environment. Insightfulness and make this book a 'bible' for anyone wanting to succeed in the corporate world.
This is a book that is a must for the managers of today. By doing so they would be able to learn that how a manager does survives in a corporate world. He has to play numerous games in order to attain success. The book not only gives the managers, an idea to play games in order to survive but it also gives them a guidance that when theses games have to played and how?
With technological advances being made every day, businesses are saving time and money and responding more quickly than ever to changing customer needs. But have these application breakthroughs contributed to more gratifying, harmonious workplaces? National surveys of employee satisfaction suggest otherwise, so what's a manager to do? Get naked, according to "The Naked Manager".
A motivational speaker, mediator and educator with more than 20 years of business experience, has found in working with clients a common missing thread: authenticity and integrity. Rather than being honest with employees, sharing core values and exposing vulnerabilities, managers and companies clothe themselves in protective layers.
Their workplace personas become so far removed from their true selves that workplace cohesion unravels. Being naked means being authentic and dealing with issues at the core level i.e. try solving all the issues that arise in an organization to the best of ones ability and reaching to a suitable solution in a very short span of time.
Through a series of exercises and diagrams reinforced by the collective wisdom of clients, guides the reader through the process of getting naked. Removing these layers is the key to transforming today's business environments.
"The Naked Manager" is a true find for today's manager; an eminently readable, digestible book with practical and applicable insights gleaned from real life experiences.
Yes, getting naked takes courage and isn't for the faint of heart. But for those managers and companies committed to creating the most successful and satisfying workplaces, it's essential. Naked managers expose their core values and inner thinking in a way that lets others know what they stand for, believe in and give credence to.
This will produce more gratifying workplaces and business relationships. Five skills--keeping an open mind, understanding another person's perspective, staying motivated, letting people know you exist, and being proud of who you are--hold the greatest value for managers in the current workplace.
Management as a discipline has developed more since 1970 than in its entire previous history, to judge by the outpouring of new, or supposedly new, theories and programmes.
Nobody expects another valley. Already new concepts are climbing up the charts, like 'virtuality' or 'globalism.'
Over the years, the debunking became conventional wisdom: the management Emperor had no clothes (hence the nakedness). But that didn't stop the outpouring of pseudo-science, from zero base budgeting to MBWA (management by walking about, in case you didn't know).
That is, the top managements who were oversold on the concept (by consultants and academics, often one and the same) climbed eagerly up the fashionable height: when, having expected too much, they lost their footing, they and the company simply moved on to a different slope.
Why else would a culture need reformation? The object must be to improve the practical performance of the business in radical measure. And it's obvious, as The Naked Manager rammed home, that effectiveness is the only useful measure of cultural excellence.
The book's insights are reinforced at the end of each chapter in a section featuring thoughts and solutions shared by business leaders around the world. The true power of a manager.
The anecdotes and analogies made me think and at times, raised an eyebrow, all good things from my point of view. The Naked Manager also provided an unexpected bonus. Besides gaining insights into working more effectively with others, I also gained some new insights on a manager's view of the world.
The author deals very well with two topics that most management writers ignore - intuition and spirituality in the workplace. This was refreshing, informative and clearly added value to the book.
The topics covered in this book are timely and very relevant to how to act in an organization for success. This book lets you experience and learn how to make yourself a more effective person. It gives the manager of today an insight of the corporate world and guides the manager what to do in different scenarios
If you are looking for a management book which has information that can help you at work and home, puts a smile on your face and makes you think, then The Naked Manager is worth your time. Like the One Minute Manager and Zap, The Naked Manager is written in an easy style and uses language that lets the reader focus on the message.
The language of the book is quite easy and easy to understand which allows the reader to understand the book, the easy way. The terms that are used are quite common and the managers of today could easily understand them. It is divided into sub chapters which makes the book comprehensible.
Each chapter has subtopics but the subtopics are related to the chapter itself. And due to the division of the book into chapters it eliminates confusion in the minds of the people.
He gives a clear cut concept of a manager and the tasks he performs in the organization. He draws a clear picture of the manager and shows that a manager doesn't have clothes, which means that he has mentioned the essence of becoming a true manager.
This book lets you experience and learn how to make yourself a more effective person. In the sense it can guide you how you should act in different situations in a way that would make you effective and the decision you take the most suitable decision that could be taken in such situations.
This was refreshing, informative and clearly added value to the book. This was a total package which includes entertainment, suspense, valuable information and an insight into the corporate world.
There's also an antic chapter equating the remarkable continuity and solidarity of top management teams (including directors) with organizational aspects of the Mafia (whose prosperity owes much to the code of silence), plus myth-mocking probes of 18-hour workdays, risk-taking, and publicly held ventures that are the equivalent of one-man bands. Cautionary commentary from a knowledgeable observer (convinced that managerial capabilities are invariably less than any organization's real needs), this provides a refreshing counterpoint to the current spate of reassuringly prescriptive guides.