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From Barnes & NobleWant your business to have the flexibility and agility needed survive over the long haul? Then cut your workers some slack, advises consultant Tom DeMarco. "Change and reinvention require a commodity that is absent in our time as it never has been before. That commodity -- the catalytic ingredient of all change -- is slack. Slack is the time when reinvention happens. It is time when you are not 100 percent busy doing the operational business of your firm. Slack is the time when you are 0 percent busy." So, if you're willing to trade a small dip in efficiency for a big jump in effectiveness, give this contrarian work a look.
- Examines the "unfortunate tradeoff" between efficiency and flexibility. DeMarco's basic argument is that organizations get more efficient only by sacrificing their ability to change -- and that slack is the best remedy for overcoming the latter shortcoming.
- Explores the four major benefits of slack: increased organizational agility; better retention of key personnel; an improved ability to invest in the future; and a capacity for sensible risk-taking, instead of risk-avoidance.
- Targets knowledge managers and workers who believe "the slack that has been squeezed out of your organizations over the last 10 years now has to be reintroduced, or no further meaningful progress will ever be possible."
- DeMarco believes his book will appeal to those who are overworked and extremely busy. Consequently, he structured it to be a "very fast, very pointed" read.
- The author is a high-profile consultant who has worked with such companies as Apple, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft. Drawing from those experiences, DeMarco writes in an authoritative and accessible style.
While exploring the tradeoff between efficiency and flexibility, DeMarco offers this quote from Microsoft's Bill Gates: "In the past, only the fittest would survive. Today, only the fastest will survive." For more on Gates' beliefs. DeMarco praises Scott Adams' "Dilbert" cartoon for offering "insight and wisdom on nearly a daily basis ... with a delightful twist of humor." If you can use a dose of Dilbert, try The Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century and Dilbert Gives You the Business. DeMarco is author or co-author of seven books on management and technical development methods, including Peopleware: Productive Projects and TeamsThe Deadline: A Novel about Project Management and Why Does Software Cost so Much? And Other Puzzles of the Information Age.
Reviewed by MH - April 17, 2001