The ability to turn around a struggling business is a skill honed in the fires of a business inferno. Specialists in this process hope to be successful a handful of times throughout their careers. Jim Burkett, author and president of Corporate Turnaround Consulting, has turned around the staggering figure of 28 underperforming companies during a 35-year career. It requires a devotion to a set of principles Burkett describes to readers in The Learned Disciplines of Management: How to Make the Right Things Happen. This book is now available a Soundview Executive Book Summary.
While every manager develops a toolkit for problem solving during the course of his or her career, Burkett points out that many of these skills might simply be what you’ve received from a predecessor or boss. In The Learned Disciplines of Management, Burkett replaces the “inherited” tools with seven learned tools: planning, organizing, measuring performance, executing, following up, real-time reporting and problem solving.
Each section of the book provides executives with an explanation of the discipline and examples to reinforce the importance of its practice. One of the more intriguing chapters concerns the discipline of measuring performance. While experienced executives probably feel as if they’ve read everything imaginable about the subject, Burkett gets to the heart of the issue: why measuring performance is so often not practiced. His findings force executives to confront the truth that performance measurement, while not a dehumanizing practice, does remove an unspoken layer of safety for underperforming teams.
These kinds of truths are essential if a manager intends to push a turnaround to its successful completion. While The Learned Disciplines of Management is a must-read for anyone in a struggling organization, it would benefit experienced executives at successful firms, as well.