Book Review: At The Heart Of Management

Note: Free evaluation copy provided by the author.

Review

At The Heart Of Management book cover

Title: At The Heart Of Management

Author: Lino F. Ciceri

Disclaimer: I'm not a manager. I've led small technical teams in the past, but not departments or even companies for which this book aims.

After the remark, I'll begin by saying that the book is interesting. I don't know how some of the themes will apply at (or collide with) different companies, but at least some chapters try to be different. There is also an overall attempt to add science, or at least use it as inspiration, to measure and orchestrate metrics, procedures and processes.

As I mentioned, this is a book about pure management: of people, of processes, of a company's mission, vision, and goals, of how to leverage research and innovation versus production, and even about ethics and behaviors, both internally and externally. But it aims to be different in a few topics, which I'll mention.

Extrapolating electromagnetic fields as market views, thermodynamics as a form of viewing impediments to change, and organizations as molecular bodies "more than the sum of their member atoms" are a few examples, sometimes even going as far as providing formulas to measure success. I don't know how applicable they are; thus, I can't judge them, but at least it is a different view, and nature is quite clever so why not try to imitate it (same as we do in areas like robotics)?

About the growth or decline of a business being always an exponential process, I am not so sure, as I've seen and know of quite a few companies that are stuck in the middle, not drowning but not going up much either, small and big, private and public ones. But my view is biased and limited, so that I can be wrong.

And the last point is that I appreciate the general theme of optimism in the book: aiming for "the common good", for "prioritizing helping others ahead of ourselves", for suggesting trying to avoid massive reductions in force/employee terminations, playing fair with the competition... All of this is admirable, but at least in my sector (tech companies), it is something that very rarely happens. I usually see companies prioritizing benefits (theirs and their investors') over anything else, employees included, as we can see from the 2022-2023 mass layoffs.

There are of course general and traditional management bits of advice, a few of them even I had heard about. Cross-domain thinking and holistic views I think are becoming more widespread, but it is good to see them remarked. And a good list of questions to ask yourself or the company executives to reflect upon and see how to steer a company.

Those previously mentioned uncommon topics are, I think, what the author means constitute the fundamental pillars of his "Timeless Management" framework. Using science and formulas and aiming to do some good, not only being selfish, in order to survive "forever".

In conclusion, it is a curious (innovative maybe?) approach to the classical company management.

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