Book: High Output Management

High Output Managemenhigh output managementt (Amazon) is a really great, interesting and helpful. It’s a little dated, being written in 1983, and I don’t think it was really updated for the 2015 re-release.

What I found most useful were the sections about meetings and decision making. What does a good 1:1 look like? How long should it last? The answer he gives is 1 hour, which seems long, but when I sat with that for a while it makes sense and I plan to try it with my team.

For decision making, he talks about how meetings should be run, who should be in them, and the idea that the meeting owner is not necessarily the most senior person.

Another really helpful concept is “nudges”, which I internalised as asking the right questions about important topics. The section on performance reviews was also helpful, and gave me a lot of things to think about.

He uses “he” throughout, which is jarring (I read so few books that do this lately), but many of the stories about actual people were about women. I’d sooner have that than how it was in The Hard Thing About Hard Things, where Horowitz uses “she” throughout but other than his wife only talks about men. Of course best is Hot Seat because Dan uses “she” throughout and tells stories about women.

Towards the end of the book I started to appreciate it as it explains various processes at Google (and other SV tech companies), which took Intel as a model. There are certain things that I came to understand the theory of, even though they were badly applied. For example the distain for external training. When it comes to training people on processes within a company (e.g. career development), it makes sense. When it comes to general things like public speaking or “unconscious bias”… well maybe not so much. There were other things about interviewing, and that being a bit more combative, that I feel like it explained the root of. The way of interviewing started with blunt… and has in places progressed to mean.

All in all I got a lot out of reading it, and definitely recommend it. If you’re a manager, it’s an excellent resource and starting point, if you’re trying to understand the system in which you operate, it’s also helpful.

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