High Output Management

Had to slog through the second half of the book, and I’m not sure if I should have done that. When I was younger, I basically memorized books as I read them; now, I think I don’t absorb much unless I’m really paying attention. I’ll try to provide a brief summary here so that I can hopefully digest whatever I remember to a stronger extent.

A large portion of Grove’s book is about treating the management process as a sort of machine line; although many industries don’t produce anything physical, he develops a case that all work must have an output, which must be quantified. For instance, a recruitment division’s output is the number of people hired (and perhaps their quality too). By quantifying post past and predicted output, it’ll be easier to improve in the future (more data, more quality).

A manager’s needs to keep track of is his output, which can best be defined as the net output of the organization that he leads—performance and data is an important indicator of this progress. By doing so, it becomes easier to track quality, any bottlenecks in the process, and potential ways to improve. This is something that I strongly agree with, and I wonder if I can use it on myself next year to improve productivity and quality of life. How can output be measured for things like life? However, focusing too much on numbers can also be bad; for instance, judging a subordinate’s performance based just on the number of tickets they’ve solved it bad. Holistic approaches are necessary, in certain cases.

Decisions like these form the bulk of managers’ work. A lot of it is getting information, processing it, and making decisions. That’s essentially what it means to be a manager. As a result, it’s extremely important to gain information from one’s surroundings, because that’s literally your job. Grove gives a few suggestions as a way of gaining information. One-on-ones with subordinates are extremely helpful for this as they let you both track their progress and understand things in the company that are going on from their perspective. Another good idea is to go to a part of the company you haven’t been before (very often) and just casually chat with the people there.

There were a lot of other things in there that were more specific towards things that actually happen in the industry, and I kinda zoned out at most of these points. Things like performance reviews, promotions, and ad-hoc meetings don’t really apply to me since I’m not in a leadership role anywhere that’s an absolute priority. BaB uses these principles, and so far it seems that the only people that have really succeeded were those that were really driven, and not necessary those with management talent. Either way, I think that it the book would definitely be worth a read to those in that position, and not necessary to me.


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