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Progress comes from the intelligent use of experience. Elbert Hubbard

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Six Simple Rules

Six Simple Rules

How to have management practices in line with the present complex business environment?

Author(s): Yves Morieux, Peter Tollman

Publisher: Harvard Business Press

Date of publication: 2014

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Is it possible to continue to manage as before, even though the complexity of the professional environment has increased significantly in recent years?

The authors, two Boston Consulting Group consultants, observed among their clients that persisting in using the same management formulas often leads to failure. One railway company tried to reduce delays by installing a new IT system, offering bonuses, redesigning maintenance processes, etc.—without success. To the contrary, quality of service and safety actually declined. Yet, when storms hit, rail employees were capable of true exploits. What was the solution? Rather than penalize failing teams, the company decided to challenge the teams that did not help those in difficulty stay on schedule. This produced a radical change in mindset, as people began to feel responsible for collective performance. In just a year, the company started to beat punctuality records.

The authors propose six rules for practicing management in line with the times. Each one of these rules is illustrated with a detailed example. These cases show how habitual “best practices” have actually made the situation worse. Conversely, simple, often counterintuitive or unexpected measures can have a very positive impact on both company performance and human capital.

What do these measures have in common? They all aim to empower people and foster collaboration, two key conditions to encourage the spirit of initiative.

If there is one message to draw from this book, it’s that the human factor is not the problem, but instead a key driver to cope with complexity!