Book Review: Kiss Theory Goodbye
I think it would be a serious mistake to “kiss theory good bye” if the given theory is both verifiably sound and in all respects appropriate. This is precisely what Peter Drucker had in mind (in 1963) when he observed, “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” A sound theory guides and informs the selection and implementation of strategies and tactics that will achieve the given objectives. Presumably Bob Prosen agrees.
In this volume he provides a remarkably cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective action plan by which to achieve desired results, whatever they may be. His specific recommendations will be of substantial value to all organizations, regardless of size or nature. He carefully organizes his material within three Parts that consist of 11 individual chapters. Prosen addresses issues that seem to be of greatest interest to decision-makers. For example, avoiding or breaking what he calls “crippling habits,” prudent management of resources, and accurate measurement of “what matters.” He offers no head-snapping revelations. He does include a few irritating claims such as knowing “the secret formula for extraordinary results.” The importance of operational excellence is neither a secret nor a formula.
Such claims are unnecessary. The substantial value of the content in this book will be derived from three factors. First, Prosen focuses almost all of his and his reader’s attention on what to do and how to do it, rather than on delineation of theories, hypotheses, etc. Especially for owners/CEOs of small businesses, this “meat and potatoes” approach will be especially appreciated. Also, his recommendations are sound, albeit obvious, and explained with commendable clarity. Finally, Prosen immediately establishes and then sustains a direct rapport with his reader. The tone of his remarks is conversational, or more accurately tutorial. He seems determined to do everything he possibly can to help each reader achieve extraordinary results.
Almost everything Prosen recommends is immediately or imminently do-able. However, as Drucker suggests, whatever is done should not only be done “with great efficiency” but also done because it is absolutely necessary. Despite this book’s title, its contents are really based on a theory – a very sound theory – which can be summarized as follows: All organizations which achieve and then sustain success have effective leadership in all areas and at all levels; manage resources prudently; offer substantial value to each client or customer; accomplish more and better results in less time and at a lower cost; constantly improve; and treat their people so well that those who work for competitors would much prefer to work for them. If you are looking for a formula for success, that may suffice. Read Prosen’s book and you’ll learn how to apply it properly.
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