Jack Skeels

Former RAND researcher, Jack Skeels, shares cutting-edge insights into how over 200 companies have learned how to better manage today's complex multi-project, multi-manager organizations. From Kirkus Reviews: A bracing, standard-resetting approach to doing management right. Skeels champions the idea of “unmanaging,” which cuts down on managerial overhead and encourages managers to get out of the way of their teams. The needs of workers and teams, the author insists, take precedence over one’s own managerial workflow; a manager’s most important goal is to enable employees to maximize their productivity. Throughout, the author delivers his insights with an effective combination of readable prose and clear-eyed pragmatism. His experience is evident on every page and should prove invaluable to readers in any managerial roles. He sympathizes with how these readers may feel they’re swimming against the tide of popular opinion: “If you are a manager who came up through the ranks as a specialist, then most of what you mastered will point you away from great managing,” he cautions, firmly but good-naturedly. “You’ll need to toss out that old compass.” This book will do very nicely as a new one. Description (from the publisher) Former executive, two-time Inc 500 award-winning entrepreneur, and think-tank management scientist Jack Skeels, in his new book, Unmanaged: Master the Magic of Creating Empowered and Happy Organizations, lays out the blueprint for how to make agencies – and many other types of organizations run better, faster and happier. Drawing on more than a decade of applied research with over 200 agencies and other high-performance organizations, Skeels presents a compelling case that managing less can be the key to managing better. In its six-part structure, the book takes leaders and managers through the origins of why we manage the way we do today, and how a new style of managing—within which one can see the echoes of Agile methods—boosts everything from project success rates to organizational productivity, profitability and happiness. In its 300 pages, Unmanaged both provides not only the rationale, but also a large number of battle-tested methods for implementing better managing, proven both within his consultancy and in prior work. The book is laced with real-world vignettes that often make managers and leaders laugh (or cringe) in recognition of their own managerial faux pas. There are over ten practical new models of managing that the reader and their organization can make, ranging from better ways to kick-off and scope projects, boost team skills growth, align better with stakeholders and clients, and ensure worker and team productivity. Leaders will be drawn to several topics that explain the power of Unmanaged’s techniques to reduce the cost of meetings, enhance DEI initiatives, and implement better organization models and metrics. While Unmanaged has its origins in digital and marketing agencies, Skeels, who spent much of his career in technology and management consulting, makes a compelling argument that the project-driven workthat they perform (complex, unique, innovative or complex projects) represents the future of human work as AI and other forms of automation displace simpler factory and service style workers. The future of knowledge work is project work. The book is written from a manager-centric perspective, informing many managerial roles found in agencies and elsewhere, including a significant focus on the discipline of project management, its many challenges and failures. At its heart, the book preaches a gospel that hints of Buddhism, urging that managers and leaders can do better by being more aware and less reactive.

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Master the Magic of Creating Empowered and Happy Organizations