mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Manager Reads - High Output Management

The parade continues with what many consider a seminal book for managers: High Output Management by the late Andrew Grove.

Who recommended the book? My manager Ravi gives this book to all his managers. He reads the book every year and always finds something new and valuable during each read; certainly some high praise to say the least.

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? The soft cover has a glossy finish and sticks to a basic color palette of purple, orange, and white. There are two random red lines straddling the title of the book which looks like some guidelines designers forgot to remove before going to print. The inside looks and smells like a classic book: classic font at a classic point size with classic leading. One oddity: the thickness of the letters sometimes varies between pages which looks really weird.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? Although High Output Management came out in 1983, it’s still amazingly relevant and provides a clear North Star for all managers. Once you get past the somewhat dry first section of the book - The Breakfast Factory - you are in for heaps and heaps of useful information. The big takeaways that stuck with me:

  1. A manager’s output = the output of his organization + the output of the neighboring organizations under his influence. Your goal as a manager is to improve your own and your group’s performance and productivity.

  2. The single most important task of a manager is to elicit peak performance from his subordinates. This can be done via training and motivation. Train someone so they are capable of doing their job and then create an environment in which motivated people can flourish.

  3. No optimal management style exists. A given managerial approach is not equally effective under all conditions. The basic idea here is that everyone has a unique task-relevant maturity and increasing this maturity is an important pragmatic goal for a manager.

  4. Giving review is the single most important form of task-relevant feedback we as supervisors can provide. Improving a subordinate’s skills improves your output. If performance matters to you, performance reviews are absolutely necessary.

Favorite quote from the book? “The single most important resource that we allocate from one day to the next is our own time.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? Read it. Grove takes the often gut-driven world of management and delivers concrete, methodical approaches to becoming a better manager and ultimately, building a better team.

Notes in Evernote? High Output Management is a treasure trove for anyone in a management position. Feel free to review my notes on 🐘.

Most of the world’s wisdom is written down in its best books. Manager Reads is a series covering books on management and leadership, focusing on books that can improve your own leadership with the wisdom of others. Enjoyed this post and want to see more? Check out more at Manager Reads.