31 August 2012

Managing for People Who Hate Managing - Book Review

Honestly Managing for People Who Hate Managing (by Devora Zack) started off with a bit of a quirky feel that I had a hard time getting used to.  I wasn’t expecting a comfortable, humorous, and engaging approach; I was expecting more of the “I’m a hard core business professional – emulate me” approach that’s so often the case with professional development titles.  However, about 20 pages in, I was able to relax and let the material sink in.  Once I got used to the informal and somewhat “in your face” style of presentation, I found the text to be extremely conversational and enlightening. 

I think it’s important to note that from a management perspective there is often this focus on professionalism and over-academic communication (you know rigidity, lack of human emotion, and the separation of work from one’s personality).  The book ultimately bumps into the edges of that approach – which I think is excellent.  In my opinion, management is about dealing with and communicating with people rather than actually “managing” them (“managing” sounds way too much like directing the incompetent which is often not the case). 

The major theme within the book is the use of the “Thinker”/”Feeler” paradigm without highlighting one mental process as supreme.  “Thinkers” and “feelers” of course being two of the major categories which Zack uses to show that management is not one size fits all and that we must recognize individual styles in our approach to people. “Thinkers” are the introverted analytical types among us, while “feelers” tend to be the more extraverted and emotional folks.  It’s refreshing to see a management text not engage in dichotomies but to highlight the fact that all behavior exists on a gradient and no one is absolute.  I think this theme is extremely well-developed and it provides a lot of perspective.  In other words using “Thinkers” and “Feelers” without diving into the politics of which approach was more “work appropriate” really helped me step back and look at how I have dichotomized the concepts to legitimize my own approach to life.

Managing for People Who Hate Managing has an amazing potential as a professional development text that can be used in a group setting.  The presence of different thought paradigms extends its usefulness in such a setting because it would be nice to be in a group where someone could say, “Shut up “thinker” you’re missing the point, this is how we “feelers” see the world.” 

Ultimately this book is a really approachable tool for people that are leery of management as a concept.  I enjoyed reading it and I felt like I gained a lot from a personal development standpoint.  I found that the book was applicable to everyone regardless of their tenure in a management role.  Zack’s use of vivid examples, narratives, cheat sheets, and opportunities for self assessment gives Managing for People Who Hate Managing a highly interactive feel that puts the reader in charge of their own progress.  In contrast to other similar titles, Zack avoids any absolute declaration of subject matter authority and instead empowers readers with the opportunity to grow on their own, enabled with a new outlook.

28 August 2012

Magic shelves

I ran across some shelves the other day in an issue of Dwell that look pretty cool because they didn't have any visible hardware or actual shelving material.  The visual appearance of the shelves is that of books which have somehow become directly adhered to the wall.  If you want to make your own, check out the photos steps below:

1.  Chose the book (a hardcover at least 3/4" thick), clamp it, and drill holes all the way through the book which line up with a set up "L" shaped brackets (spaced 1" from the each edge).

2.  Use book binding screws (hollow post screws) to go through the "L" shaped bracket and hold the whole thing together.

3.  Mount the books using drywall anchors (I went with the screw in type rated to 75lbs).  Here's a picture of the end product.  Mine hold at least 7-8 books each with no signs of issues.

23 August 2012

Van Gogh Screams for Jesus

When I first saw the story of Cecilia Giménez’s accidental defacing of the Jesus portrait in Madrid, I felt for sure that the article must be a spoof or a satire of some sort.  It turns out that it is in fact, sadly true that in her attempt to recover the fresco for water damage Giménez ended up reducing the portrait into something that looks like a man-monkey wearing a Mennonite inspired muumu.

Here's the original painting along-side the version that Giménez felt she needed to restore.

I would like to entertain my alternative hypothesis that Giménez is actually an elderly avant garde artist introducing her social critique titled “Van Gogh Screams for Jesus.”  The rendering below shows Ms. Giménez’s thought process in arriving at the finished product.  Rumors are beginning to circulate that Giménez may actually be the true personification of the street artist Banksy.

Hopefully some good can come of this tragedy and we'll see the emergence of a meme featuring this "artist's" perspective on classics.  Here's the first one I've stumbled across.