Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Employees First, Customers Second:  Turning Conventional Mangement Upside Down by Vineet Nayar is yet another management book that promises to revive a company or at least revitalize a company that is struggling.  Even a company that is doing well but marginally well, can do better, or so the author claims.

It's hard to argue with his seeming success within his own company and he shares some of the insights he learned along the way.  Although HCL Technologies was doing well when Nayar took over he saw that there was room for improvement and a clear opportunity for growth.  Beginning by looking closely at what was working and what wasn't, he began a campaign of change that allowed the company to meet and even exceed projected expectations.

Nayar draws on a variety of inspirations upon which to justify his recommendations.  When he encourages more transparency it isn't necessarily because he knows it is going to work.  In fact, most of the time he seems to be trying things (anything) in hopes that it will succeed but never 100% confident that it will.  Instead, he frames his ideas in a context of why he believes it could and should work and then sits back to see what happens.  In the case of transparency, the author merely looked at the average employee, the one who grew up with blogs and the internet, and realized that a more open approach to how things are done might be necessary to further the productivity of his company.

And it works even when he looks to the family dynamic in his own home and how things have changed over the decades, the author finds possibility and then fulfills on his own promises.

What I especially like about this book is that it not only tears away the iconic curtain of how corporate offices should work but Nayar never offers clearly delineated ways of appying his principles.  What works for HCL Technologies worked not because of the specifics but because of the principles and the manager who reads and is inspired by this book may find it frustrating not to have a clear gameplan.  But really, in a way, there is one because if each concept is worked through with the same commitment as Nayar and his people seem to possess, the process will define itself.  This book gives you the why and suggests how you might begin.  In the end, it is the company's responsiblity to commit to change and make it work in whatever manner best fits the need of the industry or culture.

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