The Focused Organization

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez

Published by

Gower

ISBN

9781409425663

RRP

£60.00

Reviewed by

Alan Bellinger BSc(Econ) MSc FLPI

Score

10 out of 10

The is second review in a row that I have given a top mark; but this one is with reservations. Not about the book itself, but much more about how it will be used. Normally, as a book reviewer, I focus on the content; how comprehensive it is and how accurate, along with how well the book is written.

But in preparing this commentary, I found myself continually coming back to the question of the purpose of a book review - and the fact that, rather than addressing the content itself, I should also consider the way in which the content will be used.

Let me explain my dilemma; the core outcome of applying the principles contained in this book is that you will ensure business alignment - that your employees will be focused on the overall goals of the organisation.As a consequence, this book is a must read for what I typically refer to as ‘Nike managers’ - those managers whose approach to employee engagement is one of ‘just do it’.

And the more I read this book the more I began to fear that, for managers who create an engaging and involving culture, this book just might be a sledge-hammer to crack a nut - or worse, a destroyer of the culture.

One of the core tenets of this book is that ‘concentrating on a few key initiatives can dramatically improve strategy execution’; but is it really as simple as that? I can think of many organisations that are extremely agile and effective with masses of initiatives on the go at any one time. And, if you narrowed them down to a smaller range of initiatives, the outcome would be an increased level of inertia in addition to a greater focus

In the second chapter, Nieto-Rodriguez propounds his view that most managers tend to neglect project management as a core management skill. And, whilst his evidence is compelling, it’s clear that his concept of project management is not especially ‘Prince2-like’.

The second half of the book addresses what Nieto-Rodriguez describes as the ‘Six Pillar Framework for Becoming a Focused Organisation’; the six pillars are:

  • Leadership and culture - which is ‘where everything starts and ends in a company’;
  • People and skills - with a clear focus on competencies and performance;
  • Organisation and governance - an area in which past traditions are being seriously challenged;
  • Processes and methods - to ensure repeatability;
  • Systems and tools - which involve technologies, work-flow and reporting; and
  • Performance management - Nieto Rodriguez envisages an enterprise-wide system, but skips over the details.

The final chapter has a wealth of hints and tips on implementing the program to create a focused organisation and, enticingly, a ‘fast-track approach that provides quantifiable results in less than 12 months’.  And, at almost 25p a page, it’s worth it - simply for the fact that, whilst most managers believe that they have the ability to create a focused organisation, this book has the tool to enable that intuition to become a reality.

Further information: Gower

July 2012