I have heard about this book many times during my two decades of being a “manager” but got to read it only today. The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson is claimed by many as a classic book on management and as Wikipedia calls it a “fad”. The first thing that strikes you about the book is how compact it is at 108 pages.

The book is written in the format of a story where a young aspiring manager interested in learning the secrets of being an effective manager, goes in search of one and finds a legendary one near his place. The effective manager he finds is an “old man” who calls himself the “The One Minute Manager”. Interviewing the managers working for the “old man” the young man learns the 3 secrets – One Minute Goal Setting, One Minute Praising & One Minute Reprimand.

The first half where the young aspiring manager interviews the managers reporting to the One Minute Manager are (now) obvious, too simplistic and for me prescriptive which I dislike, but the second half of the book makes it a worthwhile read even today after 40 years of original publication.

In the second half, the “old man” tells stories to explain why his techniques of One Minute Praising and One Minute Reprimand work. The stories of how Pigeons are trained to walk up and push a lever by making them take one step at a time and be rewarded for that little step; how dolphins are made to jump a long height outside water, are common sense but we forget to use the techniques when we work with people, of course, we need to remember people are not animals!. Similarly is the story of how we parent our kids – we do scold them for their misdeeds but don’t fail to immediately tell them we love them; why is it that we don’t do the same with the people who work for us?.

Every manager will do good to herself and the company she works for if they read this book at least once a year.

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