I’ve been reading Tom DeMarco’s excellent book, Slack. It’s a few years old, but the ideas he presents are still fresh. I’m only about halfway through it, but figured it’s a fine time to recap some learning points.
His main thesis is that organizations are often "overimproved" and could benefit greatly from some built-in slack. What he’s talking about are companies which have so embraced an efficiency ethic that most everyone is busy all the time. When talks about slack, he’s pointing at both organizations and individual managers. DeMarco would like to see organizations and managers that understand the power of slack. He defines slack as that time when someone is 0% busy. He notes three main benefits for what he calls "sensibly designed-in slack": flexiblity (a capacity for ongoing organizational redesign), better people retention and a capacity to invest. He takes sufficient space to detail what he means by these things, and more.
One quote that I loved in the book, that is sure to become a fixture on my office wall follows:
Managers who inspire extraordinary loyalty from their people tend to be highly charismatic, humourous, good-looking, and tall.
There’s more context, of course, but I loved the quote! Another quote that strikes a deep chord with my Slacker Manager mentality is this:
Overworked managers are doing things they shouldn’t be doing.
I’ll write at least another post on this book, but wanted to get my initial impressions up for now…