As I read this handbook, I was again reminded of Albert Einstein's suggestion that "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." For more than a decade, Jensen has been a staunch advocate of simplification (publishing Simplicity in 2001 and Work 2.0 in 2003 as well as several e-docs which can be easily downloaded from Amazon) but never recommends that essentials ever be diminished by the elimination of the superfluous. This is a key point. In this volume, he offers 32 practical ways by which to do less inorder to accomplish more. "I've designed a book of workarounds and shut-off valves -- ways to get around or stop the senseless stuff that comes at you every day." Presumably Jensen agrees with Stephen Covey that most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important. To say this is a "handbook" is to correctly suggest that it is a WORKbook. All of the material is valuable but not all of it is immediately relevant to a given reader's immediate needs. Hence Jensen's advice: "Pick (only) the three or four chapters that scream at you...Follow the steps in each chapter [and then] Rip out the Do-Less Toolkit pages at the back of the book...Tack 'em up wherever you'll see them every day. Be one with the pages. Do less."
Jensen organizes his material within three Sections: Daily Rituals, Career Milestones, and Leader Essentials. In each, he provides a series of "How tos" in combination with appropriate metrics by which to (a) measure the current situation, (b) identify what must be done to improve it, and then (c) measure the progress of improvement initiatives. For example, the "Less-O-Meters" track Courage, Difficulty, and Yield. All this is much less complicated than I may now indicate. The greatest difficulty, obviously, is taking appropriate ACTION and staying with Jensen's program. The road to self-improvement is paved with good intentions but, too often, is soon abandoned. Most of those who purchase this handbook do so because they sense a great need in their lives to eliminate what is not essential to it. It is human nature to begin with high hopes and great expectations and then become discouraged or distracted. That phenomenon is quite common and illustrates precisely why this handbook will be of greatest benefit to those who need it most because they are most vulnerable to procrastination.
It will also be of substantial benefit to victims of what Jensen characterizes as "corporate crap." For example, quite some time ago, editors of a magazine (whose name I have forgotten) conducted a "Dilbert Quotations" contest. They were looking for people to submit quotations from their real-life Dilbert-type managers.
Here are some of the finalists:
1. "As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks." (This was the winning quotation from Fred Dales at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, WA.)
2. "What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter." (Lykes Lines Shipping)
3. "E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business." (Accounting manager, Electric Boat Company)
4. "We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees." (Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)
5. One day my Boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow would be soon enough. He said "If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!" (New business manager, Hallmark Greeting Cards)
I urge you to purchase this handbook and follow Jensen's suggestion that you skim-read it from cover-to-cover. While doing so, you will immediate recognize those portions which are of most immediate relevance to your own circumstances, both at work and in your private life. Focus on those sections initially. Precisely follow the step-by-step process which Jensen recommends. Because you will be embarking on an especially difficult journey, expect to encounter obstacles along the way, experiencing frustration and "combat fatigue" as you do so. Stay the course! For Dorothy and her valiant companions, there was yellow brick road for them to follow during their journey to the Emerald City. Whatever your own destination may be, Jensen offers this handbook which can become a yellow brick road for you.
on 8 May 2004
The inside cover challenges us to ‘Do less…of the corporate silliness. Ignore more of the noise and senseless stuff that comes your way. You deserve better. You deserve to spend more of you time and talent on what truly matters.’ I was in total agreement with this and wanted to see how this could be achieved.
Jensen’s 32 chapters tells us how to make this happen - this is split into 3 sections: Daily Rituals, Career Milestones and Leader Essentials. He also tells us how to use the handbook – i.e. pick out 3 or 4 chapters that you feel are most relevant, e.g. ‘How to say No to Anyone in Any Situation’; ‘How to Deal with Managers Who Pile it On: MoreMoreMore, Now!’ and follow the steps in each chapter.
These steps offer different approaches for dealing with each problem, e.g. in ‘How to say No…’ Jensen gives examples of direct and indirect responses, who these responses should be directed too, and how often each approach should be given (direct ‘No’s should be used 25% of the time with close co-workers and those you have either none or minimal personal connection with).
The layout is very accessible, paragraphs are well laid out and are given room to breathe with ample white space. The tone is chatty, direct and helpful. Although the suggested remedies are not unique, the manner in which they are presented and described left me with a feeling that whatever the problem, I was armed with several strategies I could put to use.
I was encouraged to read that my own style of regular questioning to clarify tasks was one method he actively encouraged. Up until reading this book I had felt demotivated as I could see my boss would rather I’d get on with the work (even though it may not be the best action in the short/long term). It was good to read a questioning nature plays a central part in Jensen’s survival techniques.
A part of the book I enjoyed a lot are the real life stories of how people - from the shop-floor to the most senior execs – have handled difficult situations. They show that sometimes a different approach works, and sometimes a person has to recognise when they’re bashing their head against a brick wall and move on.
on 19 November 2008
Millions of employees walk out of staff meetings every day muttering, "What a bunch of garbage" or "I can't believe we wasted an hour on that." Then they return to their desks, and to the harsh reality of having too much work to do and not enough time. Bill Jensen's dead-on-target observations about the typical workplace will have you nodding in agreement. His irreverent approach is entertaining and informative. He explains the differences between meaningful work and all the pointless "baloney" that inevitably comes your way. More importantly, the author offers terrific suggestions for how to deal with oppressive bosses, insensitive co-workers and institutional silliness. getAbstract recommends Jensen's fun book if you want an entirely new perspective on your work.