Kellogg professor J. Keith Murnighan, my colleague and charming friend, has just published a lovely book called "Do Nothing." I first read the manuscript some months back (and thus could provide the praise you see on the cover) and I just spent a couple hours revisiting this gem.
This crazy book will bombard you with ideas that challenge your assumptions. His argument for doing nothing, for example, kicks-off the book. I was ready to argue with him because, even though I believe the best management is sometimes no management at all, I thought he was being too extreme. But as I read the pros and cons (Keith makes extreme statements, but his arguments are always balanced and evidenced-based), I became convinced that if more managers took this advice their organizations would more smoothly, their people would perform better (and learn more), and they would enjoy better work-life balance.
He convinced me that it this is such a useful half-truth (or perhaps three-quarters-truth) that every boss ought to try his litmus test: Go on vacation, leave your smart phone at home, and don't check or send any messages. Frankly, many bosses I know can't accomplish this for three hours (and I mean even during the hours they are supposed to be asleep), let alone for the three weeks he suggests. As Keith says, an interesting question is what is a scarier outcome from this experiment for most bosses: Discovering how MUCH or how LITTLE their people actually need them.
You will argue with and then have a tough time resisting Keith's logic, evidence, and delightful stories when it comes to his other bits of strange advice as well. I was especially taken with "start at the end," "trust more," "ignore performance goals," and "de-emphasize profits." Keith shows how the usual managerial approach of starting out relationships by mistrusting people and then slowly letting trust develop is not usually as beneficial as starting by assuming that others can be fully trusted until they prove otherwise. He will also show you how to make more money by thinking about money less!
As these bits suggest, Keith didn't write this book with the aim of telling most bosses what they wanted to hear. Rather his goal was to make readers think, to challenge their assumptions, and to show the way to becoming better managers by thinking and acting differently. In a world where we have thousands of business books published every year that all seem to say the same thing, I found Do Nothing delightful and refreshing -- not just because it is quirky and fun, but because Keith also shows managers how to try these crazy ideas in low-risk and sensible ways.