The views expressed in these reviews are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the books under review are the copyright property of the respective authors.
Published here July 2018

Introduction to the Books
Book 1 - What if Common Sense was Common Practice in Business?
Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Book 2 - A Pocket Guide to Stakeholders' Management Engagement
Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked | Conclusion

Book Structure

The structure of this book consists of just two parts, A and B.

Part A has eight chapters covering such topics as Common Sense: Create a Common Performance Language; The Common Enemy is Subjectivity; The Common Sense Point is Clarity and Simplicity and includes descriptions of common sense scenarios. Part A also focuses on identifying and retaining the right people. The point is that if you recruit people to do work described only by fuzzy language, language that they interpret in their own way, then you should not be surprised if their work performance does not meet your expectations.

The author defines "fuzzy communication" as "ANY performance related communication that can be interpreted differently by different people."[5] So, included in Part A are a whole series of factual scenarios demonstrating the results of using fuzzy communications. Here's one such wonderful example.[6]

A True Story: (We join the scenario during the boss's explanation to a brand new College Career Counselor of what the job 'really is'.)

New Counselor (NC): So, our company only gets paid based on the student attending the college class just one time. After that we don't care?

Manager (M): It's not really that we don't care, but we don't get paid for anything beyond that, so we can't spend more time on them than whatever it takes to get them to that first class so they get their grant check.

NC: So, I'm not really working as a career counselor, which was described in the hiring process. I'm a telemarketer just hounding them to get to class so they can get their first grant check so we can get paid?

M: You might look at it that way, but 'Career Counselor' looks better on your resume than 'Telemarketer'.

NC: So, is my job performance evaluation based on how many people I get to attend class?

M: That's part of it.

NC: What else is there?

M: The main part is how I evaluate you as a team player.

NC: And what basis do you use to evaluate that?

M: Whatever I feel like when it's time to evaluate you.

NC: So, let's see if I have this correct: I was hired as a career counselor, I'm receiving on-the-job-training as a telemarketer, and I will be evaluated on my ability to suck-up to my manager?

M: We aren't going to get along are we?

The author concludes Part A of his book by observing:[7]

"The point of this book is not that you have to adopt the practices that are used for examples, it's for you to use the principles in your life, both professionally and personally."

Part B of the book is interesting because it exactly mimics the chapters in Part A, with the same numbering except with the suffix "B". These "B" chapters provide "How to" responses to deal with, or better yet, avoid, the fuzziness-of-language described in Part A. As the author explains it:[8]

"In other words:

  • Part A = Why do we need to replace subjectivity with objectivity and establish a Common Performance Language?
  • Part B = How do we go about doing it?

This structure gives you the option to read in any order you please. If a particular scenario in Part A leaves you wanting to know how to practice it, go ahead and read the corresponding chapter in Part B. If you prefer to focus on the examples, without the implementation detail, stay in Part A."

What if Common Sense was Common Practice in Business?  What if Common Sense was Common Practice in Business?

5. Ibid, p7
6. Ibid, pp5-6
7. Ibid, p58
8. Ibid, pp3-4
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