Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How to herd cats? Alas, no., 3 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Clever: Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People (Hardcover)
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This slim book offered great promise with a potentially bright idea. The research is good and the quotes make excellent sense. But, sadly, it is deeply flawed, and the quotes frequently contradict the main premise underlying the raison d'etre of the book. I believe the many talented people offering the quotes, not the authors of the book.

So what are the authors trying to do? Their declared objective is to show how to lead `Clevers'.

A `Clever' is defined as someone with talent, focus and drive (all in excess of normal), someone who tends to go their own sweet way (because it's right, makes crystal-clear sense, and the boss doesn't have a clue). `Clevers' are supposed to be incapable of organising a workplace or managing a project, and need to be led into a comfortable environment and gently steered in the right direction. I can understand that, at one time I fit their over-simplistic pigeonhole definition.

However, the `Leader' cannot be clever since that disqualifies him from owning method or direction, or the ability to make tough decisions under stress. I'm sorry to pour cold water on that premise, but the ultimately good leader is someone who is talented at leading, and inspires others to follow his driving force, or, to use the author's syntax, that someone is `Clever' at being a `Leader'. Several of the interviewees even touch on this, but the blinkered authors doggedly stumble on down to their uninspiring dead end.

The few technical gimmicks they attempt to explain in the latter half are industry standard, and are available in more depth and breadth in any number of better written and more clearly presented books. Over the years I've been on several management courses, all of which had infinitely better supporting literature.

I became so bored by `Clever' I confess to speed reading the last half, and only persisted to be able to write this review. At least the wilful stupidity of the first half annoyed me enough to keep me awake.

To sum up.
The book is extremely badly structured and difficult to find your way around, as well as being hard to read with near invisible pale grey headings.
If it is to be a guide for transforming the dull and uninspired `Leader' it should be laid out like a teaching manual; they have no excuse, that format has been well proven in any number of informative and educational books, and I own several.
If it is to be an entertaining read pursuing a worthwhile theme, like `Parkinson's Law or the Pursuit of Progress' or `Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation', then the soporific English needs much more levity and shorter paragraphs, and again better structure is required.

My verdict? Pulp it.
No stars at all. Amazon forced me to put in one star against my will.
5/10 for research
3/10 for the recycled management methods
0/10 for abysmal structure and presentation
0/10 for the flawed concept
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