Guest reviewers choice
Our Guest Reviewer this month is - John Spriggs who introduces his book choice:
“How to Manage Your Boss” by Raymond Monbiot
“The humorous – but practical – guide to boss-management for ambitious executives”
The first management book I bought, I saw it advertised when it came out; the title suggested new possibilities to me. I did not actually have a problem with my boss but, having seen some of the problems he had with his, I could see that I may need something like this in due course…
On reading it, I found that I was already doing some of the right things. I did not agree with all the material; but there was one idea that was new to me, and which I have used to various degrees ever since. (Sorry, Boss!) I lost the book, but subsequently bought a second-hand copy. Interestingly, when I turned to the key chapter, I found that the previous owner had left a bookmark in there.
So, what is this key secret of boss-management? The Rabbit Garden!
If you ever saw the BBC TV series, “Yes Minister” you would have seen the civil servants apply the technique to stop the Minister interfering in their running of the department. The idea comes from horticulture. Rabbits come into your plant nursery and eat the best plants, so what can you do? Shoot the rabbits? Fence them? No, you create a “rabbit garden”; grow interesting food plants between the rabbits’ entry and your best plants. The same choices exist at work; give your boss interesting things to deal with, so that (s)he stays away from your best work as it is developing.
The book’s subtitle suggests it is for executives, but I would say that this chapter, at least, is essential reading for anyone who wants to get on with their jobs without unnecessary interference – to make progress, rather than having the boss there stopping progress by repeatedly asking you to report on it (well, its lack).
John Spriggs Biography
John Spriggs is a safety assurance professional and technical leader who has worked in many, predominantly aviation-related, rôles. Currently working for an Air Navigation Service Provider, he was previously the safety assurance consultant or safety assurance manager in a number of commercial organisations including subsidiaries of Siemens and Thomson-CSF (1994-2005). Prior to that he worked as an avionics designer, systems engineer and technical manager in the Plessey Company (and their successors in title after a hostile take- over); joining as a student, leaving as Avionics Chief Engineer (1974-1994).
John wrote the text book on Goal Structuring Notation, GSN; it is a practitioners’ guide (available from the CMI Library). Separate chapters are available as stand-alone e-books, for example that which summarises the notation is at: