management secretsDon’t read posts that have either numbers or the word “secrets” in the title!

The internet has been filled with management advice for many years. Recently a new formula for management and leadership posts has been emerging:

1) The problem is stated, often through a story or case study.

2) Several solutions are identified and either numbered or called secrets or both.

3) The reader is urged to follow these nuggets of advice with the promise that he or she will be marvelously successful.

The titles for these lessons follow a pattern, such as:

“Ten Ways to Cultivate New Partnerships.” (You can substitute “three” or “five” or “seven,” though rarely “four” or “six” or “eight.” Other than “ten,” even numbers don’t seem to fare well in the virtual world.)

Or the title may be something like: “The Secrets of Slow Marketing.” Here the “Secrets” may be preceded by a number – e.g. “Three Secrets” – but they in any case imply mystery and are typically followed by a phrase no one has ever heard before – like “Slow Marketing.” (Actually, I made up that term, then discovered there is such a thing!)

Apparently, a few years ago, the culture gods decided that using numbers and “secrets” in the title of management posts would attract greater readership. And once that decision was made (and went subtlety viral), readers did indeed flock to such posts and consultants, faculty members, and random individuals kept producing them as well as the shiny covered books that followed. (A quick review of recent posts in Inc. magazine showed that fully a half of the posts had either numbers or “secrets” in the title.)

Well, I have a secret too. And I’ll share it for free. There are no magic numbers, nor secrets in managing well. 

Let’s start from the backside. There are plenty of ways to manage poorly – and one of the most important is to fall victim to “theoretical overkill.” Hundreds of faddish approaches to management are put forward each year by academics, consultants, and business writers. It’s no wonder managers are often frustrated and confused by “theories” that don’t match “practice.”

Managing well, on the other hand, is really not that hard. All that is required are a few simple ideas, practiced with patience, sincerity, and good will.  There are dozens of common-sense lessons which are part of the DNA of the best managers in public, private, and nonprofit organizations in this country and around the world. No one is keeping them a secret.

At the same time, we still love the simplicity of being told that there are three or five lessons that will make us better managers – which is of course a little simplistic. And if we are told a secret is being revealed we get even more excited – even though the “secret” is something any good manager would know.

So here comes JUST PLAIN GOOD MANAGEMENT, a minibook that offers the basics. No numbers. No secrets. No fads. No frills. Just straightforward advice for those who want to master the art of management.

The lessons in JPGM represent the core skills and ideas that guide good management today. They are not the lessons of the past, but those of today – the new management. The basic ideas aren’t that difficult, but, if practiced consistently, they can make your organization more productive and your community a better place to live. And you and your people will likely feel happier and more engaged than ever before.

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