Whatever It Takes: The Realities of Managerial Decision Making / Edition 2

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Overview

Here's what experts had to say about the First Edition:

"McCall and Kaplan have written a book that is stimulating, challenging, exciting, and provocative. The authors combine excellent writing with a textured understanding of the problems that confront managers when they make decisions. As a result, this book is filled with insights that one wants to savor and reflect on further. The authors fill this book with practical advice and rules of thumb that will be of value to those involved in decision making. As these two reasons suggest, the book should appeal to both researcher and practitioner."

Robert J. Bies
Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior
Kellogg Graduate School of Management
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL

"The writing style is crisp and down-to-earth. The authors tell it like it is, giving the in-house politics and existential absurdity of decision-making equal time in a refreshing departure from recent ideological treatments of corporate excellence. McCall and Kaplan weave together findings from research and quips from harried, real-life managers about the decision-making problems that confront them."

William J. Rothwell, Ph.D
HRD Program
Illinois Office of the Auditor General

"This is an excellent book. Probably the most readable and engaging discussion of decision making I have seen in a while. A most welcome and refreshing change from the alternatives available on the market."

Vasu Ramanujam
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780139521362
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 6/14/2001
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 150
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.89 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The first step in doing a revision is bringing together various reviews of the first edition. Until that time authors can delude themselves about how successfully they achieved their original goals. Therefore, we were pleased that the reviews of Whatever It Takes, while chock-full of useful suggestions, described what we had hoped to write: a book thoroughly grounded in research, supplemented by the experiences of executives and managers, written in an entertaining and readable way that would paint a realistic picture of what managers were up against "out there." In fact, a concern of several critics was that we would ruin what we had done by messing with it.

Preserving the original's approach, style, audience, and intent was our major priority for the second edition. Rather than undertaking a massive overhaul, we opted for a more modest updating and elaboration. We fleshed out some content areas that readers felt deserved more attention. We reviewed the research that had accumulated since 1984 and incorporated what we could into the book. We asked our artist, David Hills, to consider some new cartoons.

What we offer here is meant to bring to life the dilemmas of decision making on line, where the best advice to managers who want to make effective decisions is still to "do whatever it takes." In the intervening years since the first edition, no one has found the Rosetta stone of decisions. No fancy algorithms were derived that solve our major problems, and no one found a way to replace experience as the managerial teacher. Research on decision making has proceeded apace, and each year adds substantially to our knowledge. Great strides have been made in some areas like artificial intelligence, which is revolutionizing the ways computers work.

But when it comes to human beings making decisions in organizations, the world is, if anything, even more complex, more ambiguous, more difficult than it was a few years ago. If anything, the pace of change continues to accelerate. Managers still have to make decisions on ill-defined issues, without all the information they need, in a context of competing pressures. The trivial and the titanic still tumble out capriciously, showing no respect for anyone's plans or priorities. While we have gotten quite good at programming computers to play chess with us, we still fumble around when it comes to deciding how to cut costs while improving service and calming irate customers.

So we hope the perspective we have tried to provide is timely and useful in the trenches, where absolutes are hard to trust and pragmatic advice is hard to find. We still offer what we think is useful from those who have done research and those who have fought the battles. And, lest any of us take ourselves too seriously, we still leaven this analysis with humor.

Since the first edition was written, both of us have experienced firsthand and in some depth the challenges of managing. Neither succeeded fully in following our own advice. Both of us, however, have emerged with an even deeper respect for the managers and executives out there with the courage and ability to make the decisions on which our organizations depend. In this age of highly publicized greed and corruption, we sometimes forget that the vast majority of us are doing the best we can with what we've got. And many do an exceptional job at a difficult business. We salute the managers who care and dare to try. We hope this second edition offers some ideas that will help them do just a little bit better and feel a little better about what they do.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword.

Acknowledgments.

Preface.

1. They Have Sown the Wind, and They Shall Reap the Whirlwind.

2 .Managerial Problems: The Emergence of Meaning.

What Are the Problems? Are the Problems Clearly Defined? The Flow of Information. Making Sense of the Pieces. Creating Problems: An Overview.

3. Priorities for Action.

To Act or Not to Act. What to Work On: Some Words of Advice.

4. Into Action.

Contextual Factors Affecting the Type of Action. Action: Quick or Convoluted. Implications for Managerial Effectiveness.

5. Victory or Defeat.

After Action, Then What? The Ambiguity of Action and Consequences. Consequences, While Ambiguous, Do Matter. Living with the Results.

6. Awash in Decision Streams: Implications for Staying Afloat.

There Are Some Things No One Can Do Much About. Some Things Individual Managers Can Do Something About. Some Things the Organization Can Do Something About.

References.

Notes.

Index.

Read More Show Less

Preface

The first step in doing a revision is bringing together various reviews of the first edition. Until that time authors can delude themselves about how successfully they achieved their original goals. Therefore, we were pleased that the reviews of Whatever It Takes, while chock-full of useful suggestions, described what we had hoped to write: a book thoroughly grounded in research, supplemented by the experiences of executives and managers, written in an entertaining and readable way that would paint a realistic picture of what managers were up against "out there." In fact, a concern of several critics was that we would ruin what we had done by messing with it.

Preserving the original's approach, style, audience, and intent was our major priority for the second edition. Rather than undertaking a massive overhaul, we opted for a more modest updating and elaboration. We fleshed out some content areas that readers felt deserved more attention. We reviewed the research that had accumulated since 1984 and incorporated what we could into the book. We asked our artist, David Hills, to consider some new cartoons.

What we offer here is meant to bring to life the dilemmas of decision making on line, where the best advice to managers who want to make effective decisions is still to "do whatever it takes." In the intervening years since the first edition, no one has found the Rosetta stone of decisions. No fancy algorithms were derived that solve our major problems, and no one found a way to replace experience as the managerial teacher. Research on decision making has proceeded apace, and each year adds substantially to our knowledge. Great strides have been made in some areas like artificial intelligence, which is revolutionizing the ways computers work.

But when it comes to human beings making decisions in organizations, the world is, if anything, even more complex, more ambiguous, more difficult than it was a few years ago. If anything, the pace of change continues to accelerate. Managers still have to make decisions on ill-defined issues, without all the information they need, in a context of competing pressures. The trivial and the titanic still tumble out capriciously, showing no respect for anyone's plans or priorities. While we have gotten quite good at programming computers to play chess with us, we still fumble around when it comes to deciding how to cut costs while improving service and calming irate customers.

So we hope the perspective we have tried to provide is timely and useful in the trenches, where absolutes are hard to trust and pragmatic advice is hard to find. We still offer what we think is useful from those who have done research and those who have fought the battles. And, lest any of us take ourselves too seriously, we still leaven this analysis with humor.

Since the first edition was written, both of us have experienced firsthand and in some depth the challenges of managing. Neither succeeded fully in following our own advice. Both of us, however, have emerged with an even deeper respect for the managers and executives out there with the courage and ability to make the decisions on which our organizations depend. In this age of highly publicized greed and corruption, we sometimes forget that the vast majority of us are doing the best we can with what we've got. And many do an exceptional job at a difficult business. We salute the managers who care and dare to try. We hope this second edition offers some ideas that will help them do just a little bit better and feel a little better about what they do.

Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2002

    Confused

    This book is required reading in a course I am taking. It is so hard to get through that I haven't.

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