Author: Glenn Bassett
Publisher: Organization Diagnostics
Almost any job or profession you can think of has a set of specific requirements for knowledge and skill that must be mastered. Managing and supervising the work of others is an exception. In part that is because the job of managing requires a range of social and technical skills that can vary widely depending on business circumstance. An infinite diversity of technologies, materials, markets and work skills can figure into the mix of the manager’s job. The manager may be asked to coordinate technically skilled team players, or, alternatively, may need to discipline the application of basic skills to achievement of production goals. Materials may be common or exotic. Customers may have influence over or little concern for product quality and design. Work skills may be common or rare. Technology may be critical or peripheral.
Some central managerial skills like accounting and finance can be trained. Mostly, they are dealt with as competences that are best left to specialists. Highly technical problems that demand specific training are, in general, treated as staff support jobs. The part of the job that always stays with the manager is that of working with and through other people to achieve cost-effective productivity using formal authority, personal influence, economic incentives and an understanding of organizing processes. As skill sets, these are very difficult to define. They blend and merge to become a personal suite of action strategies that are put to use as needed. Formal education and training can provide a summary focus, but only practice and experience can make them effective working tools. Much of managing and supervising is thus learned from experience on the job. The manager’s challenge is to find a mentor who can guide him/her past the most critical traps and blunders.
Much that passes for management training is, unfortunately, superficial or just wrong. Economic incentives are clearly basic but always insufficient. Application of authority is indispensable but can backfire or fail. Motivational programs can turn out to be all PR and noise. Workers may be satisfied and unproductive. Cost control measures can gut the core of product quality. Balancing it all can be a juggling act that daunts average intellectual and social skill. Managing and supervising skills can be learned on the job if failure is tolerated. Only limited trial and error can be accepted. The best available advice and mentoring is required for survival over the long course. The chapters of this book will provide the working manager with the knowledge necessary to accelerate learning and skill mastery. When put together in a coherent, working package through experience, that mastery rises to the professional level.
The author, Dr. Glenn Bassett, applies his unusual range of practical and professional experience to defining and clarifying the requisite skill and knowledge. From his background as a working personnel executive, professor of management, GE corporate staffer, social science researcher, consultant and business school dean he critically and synergistically sorts out the realities of sound management practice. He deals with issues of authority and discipline rationally and realistically, disposing summarily of nearly all standard motivational theory. He challenges commonly offered “principles” of management showing that many are misleading or illusory. He lays out the principles of worker productivity that a manager must grasp to control cost and quality. What emerges is a description of the Manager’s Craft that summarizes the knowledge and skill required of the working manager who must exercise control in the workplace, build commitment among colleagues, and sustain high quality, cost-effective productivity. This is an intellectually rigorous analysis applied to achievement of practical managerial results. This is The Manager’s Craft.
What is the Non-Fiction Writer’s Mission?
Glenn Bassett, Ph.D.
Good writing evokes interest in the reader and may even be entertaining. Perusing the written word can simply and directly be enjoyable. Reading can be fun. Effective writing also informs the reader and influences action. Reading can shape attitudes and instruct human behavior. The written word can arouse anger, disgust, passion, or hope depending on the writer’s purposes. The writer is always on some mission or other, whether it is recognized or not.
Categorizing the writing as fiction or non-fiction rarely addresses the writer’s intended mission. Entertaining fictional stories can also inform by revealing important life strategies, opportunities, or threats. Non-fiction can provide delightful revelations of new opportunity and routes to personal mastery. The book’s title and the author’s reputation may suggest the nature of the experience it offers, but entering into the reading itself is always in some part an adventure. That’s part of the pleasure in reading, but expectations for the experience ahead are usually set by whether the book is billed as fiction or non-fiction. Fiction is fun, being informed is work.
The art of fiction writing is to engage the reader so fully in the narrative that only fatigue or urgent priority will interrupt the reading. Fiction writers must engage the reader. The story that does not hold interest will not be read. The mission of the story teller is to capture and hold the reader’s interest in the story as such. The mission of the non-fiction writer, on the other hand, is to accurately convey information or effectively make a reasoned argument. It is the art of reportage. The reader’s interest in the report offered is assumed to have been captured by the subject matter itself.
Non-fiction writing need not be so self-limiting. Really interesting reportage also tells a story. It may be a story of discovery, of an historical event, of opportunity to acquire new insight or skill, or of a life lived. Stories work on the premise that there is an adventure to be undertaken that will lead to new places. Really good non-fiction tells an accurate story that engages the reader’s full interest in a voyage of personal growth.
The non-fiction writer must always strive to engage the reader’s interest by emphasizing the adventure of reading. The reader’s interest must be captured, not assumed. Nevertheless, the objective must not be merely to entertain. It must be to inform, and to inform means to add new clarity to the thought processes of the reader. The writer of non-fiction must be a coach, teacher, expert and irrepressible story teller.