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Review: Under New Management by David Burkus

Speed Review: Under New Management“Management,” declares business school professor and author David Burkus in the introduction to his new book, “needs new management.” According to Burkus, too many companies are clinging to old assumptions, old processes and old habits that have grown obsolete. In Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual, he introduces a number of modern, sometimes surprising, approaches to management that directly challenge past practices and attitudes.

Burkus describes, for example, how some companies let employees take as much time off as they want. There is no allocation and monitoring of vacation days: If you want to take a vacation, take a vacation. Burkus also describes the concept of paying employees to quit. The longer you’ve worked at a company, the more cash you will get paid for quitting (up to a certain threshold).

A sample of the other new management approaches covered in the book includes:
• Banning emails
• Eliminating managers
• Making salaries transparent
• Abandoning open-office layouts
• Putting customers second.

Although they may sound counter-intuitive, if not fanciful in some cases, all of the new approaches presented by Burkus have been successfully implemented. The concept of paying employees to quit, for example, was made famous by Zappos, which will pay $4,000 in cash if new employees quit their jobs. Amazon has pushed the concept even further, offering cash for quitting once a year (the offer is a one-off at Zappos). The first year, employees are offered $2,000 to quit, and the offer goes up $1,000 every year after that until it reaches $5,000. The annual offer then stays at the $5,000 level.

Eliminating managers is one of the more surprising concepts in the book, yet it has also been successfully implemented. Burkus describes how new employees at Valve Software, an online gaming development firm estimated to be valued at $3 to $4 billion, have to get used to the fact that no one will tell them what to do.

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