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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Tools for Success: A Manager's Guide
Author:
Suzanne Turner
ISBN:
0 07 710710 1
Publisher:
McGraw-Hill
Pages:
200pp
Price:
£9-99
Reviewer:
Chris Hills
Subject:
management
Appeared in:
15-6
This is a strange book. Basically it is an annotated list of methods (or tools) and a tool in itself. What it does is list 95 tools or methods used in management with the essential notes. Note these are methods in the sense they are a way of doing things. There is not one of them that actually require you to buy any software packages or other tools bar flip charts, marker pens, paper etc. Though for some something like MS-Project or Visio might be useful but not essential. No software is recommended or mentioned in this book. It is not a veiled attempt to get you to buy software, tools resources packages or anything else for that matter.

The format is startlingly simple; the book starts with the usual introduction on the format, how to use the book, etc. It then gives a matrix of project type against stage, e.g. business strategy, IT project, sales/marketing, design, etc. against defined objectives, monitor and review, implementation, etc. It then lists the rules that fall into each category. This will help guide you to the right group of tools or methods for the job.

There is also a matrix listing all the methods against various categories (analysis, creativity, problem solving, planning, etc.) to show where they can be used.

The methods themselves take two pages each. I wondered about this but I think it is a good idea. Had it been a flexible size then there would have been the temptation to go into details and get away from the bare essential ideal.

The format is the same for all the methods making comparison easy. There are sections; when to use, what you get (result), time (how long it takes), number of people (some are group/team activities), equipment required (usually pens, paper, flipchart and a room). These sections are a sentence or two at most.

You then get the method itself. Usually with a diagram, chart, table, etc. as required. This is more than two sentences but not more than half a page. It is the essential points. It is followed by a short example of a couple of sentences and then a suggested exercise, which is normally something very simple that will quickly show how to apply the method. This is followed by a short list of key points and then additional comments.

Following this is where to get additional information if you really do feel the need. Some companies want more detail and references before they implement new procedures. The final item is usually a chart, table or whatever, that is large enough to photocopy out of the book to start using as a blank for your own experiments or on the wall as appropriate.

The useful thing about this book is its brevity. You won't get bogged down in reading vast amounts of information. You get the essence of the method without getting bogged down in volumes of opinion and trivial detail. Most ideas are simple but you have to put in a lot of padding to get a book out of it. This book is 94 methods stripped to the essentials and laid bare.

This book will be indispensable to managers at all levels. When you have a problem, a project to do, etc. then ten minutes with this book will give you enough information to find a labour saving system that will help organise your thoughts. Highly recommended