High Output Management

High Output Management by Andrew Grove is one of the management classics, and rightly so. The main insight I took away from the book is that the output of a manager is the output of his team/whom he influences. This sheds new light on the usability of meetings, what the impact is of decisions, and how you should plan.

In the introduction, Andrew speaks about time as being the competitive advantage. I like this both for the business perspective (i.e. how to leverage your time), and for personal life (how to get the most out of your time).

As a manager, you want to be working on the thing that has the most leverage. For instance, if you make one decision that influences the work for the coming months, that is a high leverage activity. Or if you give a training to 200 employees who will then work more effectively, that is also high leverage. Andrew argues that information gathering is also part of this equation.

Another insight from the book is that we need to plan ahead. What are the things we can do now so that we don’t have to do X (Y and Z) later? For instance, if you review a draft of some work, you may give it another direction without having your employees waste time making the finished report and then changing it.

One thing I found in the book, and in my goals, was the idea of having slack in the system. So that when a thing comes up you can deal with it and not let everything go sideways.

Andrew argues for a system of Management by Objectives (MBO) or more precisely Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). (also see this TED talk by John Doerr) And Measure What Matters.

  1. Where do I want to go? (objective)
  2. How will I pace myself to see if I am getting there? (key results)

He states that the system should be for relatively short periods of time (quarterly or monthly). Luckily that is something we do at Queal.

There is even more good stuff in the book, but then you will have to read it yourself!