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I learned early in my consulting career as a professor coach that it is all about building relationships. Karen reminds us, It's the people stupid! and then shows us in this wonderful book how the recommendations of the the commercial consultants are basically just ways of keeping the consulting industry profitable. The best thing about this book is the concrete examples, not just the critique. It shows us over and over again how problems are not solved by extensive programs and studies, but by getting people together and building relationships. The most important of those, and often missing, is the relationship between the client and the consultant. This book shows over and over again that when the consultant finally talks to the client and establishes a relationship, problems begin to be addressed and solved. In the end this turns out to be a book about how to manage and how to live, not just how to be careful of consultants.
—Edgar H. Schein, bestselling author of Humble Inquiry and Helping
Former Fortune 100 executive Phelan skewers the mystique of management consultants in this entertaining guide for how not to manage a business. Drawing on her own consulting experiences, she portrays them as providing pre-packaged, unproven theoretical constructs that "substitute for getting people to work together better." Phelan argues convincingly that using statistical models to solve all problems exalts the process of measurement above the goals of improving employee efficiency and performance. Phelan's unpretentious style engages the reader in the unfolding revelation that prevailing business models are wrong. If, as she maintains, the misconceptions propagated by the consulting industry underlie many business problems today, a fresh approach is needed. Readers will be intrigued by her thesis that no principles apply universally, and that companies that hire consultants to think for them are courting doom. Her message that consultants can contribute to "a two-way relationship" offers a hopeful contrast to her earlier warnings. Although Phelan belabors her main points, her caution against relying on "one size fits all" advice rings true.
—Publishers Weekly (Reviewed January 2013)
“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.
I highly recommend the iconoclastic and people oriented book to any organizational leaders, decision makers, managers, and consultants who are seeking an approach to finding workable, realistic, and lasting solutions to the most pressing problems within the firm. The author shares timeless and empowering ideas that will engage and inspire the employees, and avoid the latest fads and acronyms at the same time.
—Blog Business World Review, April 2013
Chapter 1: Strategy development is a vision quest
Chapter 2: Optimized processes look good on paper
Chapter 3: Numerical targets are measuremental
Chapter 4: Standardized human asset management is a SHAM
Chapter 5: The Successful Manager’s Handbook is 609 pages long
Chapter 6: Albert Einstein was a poor performer
Chapter 7: Steve Jobs failed my leadership competencies
Chapter 8: Check your sanity here
Epilogue: Are management consultants bad people?
Appendix 1: A Measure of Truth
Appendix 2: The Method of Truth