Escape from Management Hell

Twelve Tales of Horror, Humor, and Heroism

Robert Gilbreath (Author)

Publication date: 05/01/1993

Escape from Management Hell

In twelve engaging stories, modern executives marooned in hell face the task of defending themselves to the devil by telling stories exposing the folly of their business practices. These stories offer readers a way to escape the hellish territory of today's organizations, and make sense of the madness of modern management.

As the story opens one snowy afternoon, a commuter jet carrying twelve executives fresh from an exclusive "leadership conference" crashes in the mountains near a Colorado ski resort. Out of the wreckage stagger the twelve VIP's, suddenly finding themselves chained together. Scattered among them are real estate speculators, airline tycoons, CFO's, backstabbers, frauds, yes-men, influence peddlers, liars, and double-crossers. Orange and red lights jump and flash to their sides. Hissing sounds like ventilated steam sigh from the cavernous roof. Decay is in the air. And death. And doom. Despair comes once they realize where they are. And why. And what it will take to escape.

They are in Management Hell, facing Satan's Chief Operating Officer, Reflecto, who lays down the rules: "You know budgets and prices and costs. You know chains of command and spans of control. You know how to put a positive spin on a disastrous project, how to doll up an annual report to make a stupid investment seem brilliant! But you are here because you lack management wisdom! Your shortsightedness, your greed, your well-intentioned management styles and your tried and true techniques just don't cut it anymore!

"To escape, to leave this inferno, you must amuse me and my boss. Each in a different way. You must teach us of your errors and triumphs, enlighten our feeble devil minds, if you will. You must impart management wisdom to us.

"You must compose meaningful, entertaining, perhaps even amusing stories. Stories that demonstrate the folly and futility of your individual sins! Stories that repudiate your errors. If every story pleases Satan, if he learns enduring lessons from each, you shall all be allowed to leave. That is how you escape from Management Hell!"

Management Hell looks a lot like the organizations that people work in today. It's a place of rapidly increasing demands on productivity, fewer resources, and greater ethical dilemmas than ever before. Robert Gilbreath offers readers a way to escape this hellish territory. Twelve tales of horror, humor, and heroism help us make sense of the madness of modern management and to find our way out of age-old managerial dilemmas.

Gilbreath's premise-twelve modern executives marooned in hell, faced with the task of defending themselves to the devil by telling stories that expose the folly of their business practices-allows readers to step back from their normal daily grind and to see startling new perspectives that they may have been missing. The stories are set in exotic places-from ancient Rome to Easter Island-yet the characters and predicaments are familiar to everyone in business and management today.

These fascinating fables reflect encounters familiar to everyone in business and shatter common myths about innovation, leadership, control, and consensus building. Managers at every level can use the insights to transform the hell of modern management into resources for creativity, courage, and lasting change.

In twelve engaging stories, modern executives marooned in hell face the task of defending themselves to the devil by telling stories exposing the folly of their business practices. These stories offer readers a way to escape the hellish territory of today's organizations, and make sense of the madness of modern management.

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Overview

In twelve engaging stories, modern executives marooned in hell face the task of defending themselves to the devil by telling stories exposing the folly of their business practices. These stories offer readers a way to escape the hellish territory of today's organizations, and make sense of the madness of modern management.

As the story opens one snowy afternoon, a commuter jet carrying twelve executives fresh from an exclusive "leadership conference" crashes in the mountains near a Colorado ski resort. Out of the wreckage stagger the twelve VIP's, suddenly finding themselves chained together. Scattered among them are real estate speculators, airline tycoons, CFO's, backstabbers, frauds, yes-men, influence peddlers, liars, and double-crossers. Orange and red lights jump and flash to their sides. Hissing sounds like ventilated steam sigh from the cavernous roof. Decay is in the air. And death. And doom. Despair comes once they realize where they are. And why. And what it will take to escape.

They are in Management Hell, facing Satan's Chief Operating Officer, Reflecto, who lays down the rules: "You know budgets and prices and costs. You know chains of command and spans of control. You know how to put a positive spin on a disastrous project, how to doll up an annual report to make a stupid investment seem brilliant! But you are here because you lack management wisdom! Your shortsightedness, your greed, your well-intentioned management styles and your tried and true techniques just don't cut it anymore!

"To escape, to leave this inferno, you must amuse me and my boss. Each in a different way. You must teach us of your errors and triumphs, enlighten our feeble devil minds, if you will. You must impart management wisdom to us.

"You must compose meaningful, entertaining, perhaps even amusing stories. Stories that demonstrate the folly and futility of your individual sins! Stories that repudiate your errors. If every story pleases Satan, if he learns enduring lessons from each, you shall all be allowed to leave. That is how you escape from Management Hell!"

Management Hell looks a lot like the organizations that people work in today. It's a place of rapidly increasing demands on productivity, fewer resources, and greater ethical dilemmas than ever before. Robert Gilbreath offers readers a way to escape this hellish territory. Twelve tales of horror, humor, and heroism help us make sense of the madness of modern management and to find our way out of age-old managerial dilemmas.

Gilbreath's premise-twelve modern executives marooned in hell, faced with the task of defending themselves to the devil by telling stories that expose the folly of their business practices-allows readers to step back from their normal daily grind and to see startling new perspectives that they may have been missing. The stories are set in exotic places-from ancient Rome to Easter Island-yet the characters and predicaments are familiar to everyone in business and management today.

These fascinating fables reflect encounters familiar to everyone in business and shatter common myths about innovation, leadership, control, and consensus building. Managers at every level can use the insights to transform the hell of modern management into resources for creativity, courage, and lasting change.

In twelve engaging stories, modern executives marooned in hell face the task of defending themselves to the devil by telling stories exposing the folly of their business practices. These stories offer readers a way to escape the hellish territory of today's organizations, and make sense of the madness of modern management.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Robert Gilbreath

An internationally known expert on change management, Robert D. Gilbreath founded the worldwide Organizational Change Practice of Anderson Consulting and is now president of Change Management Associates. He is the author of Save Yourself: Six Pathways to Achievement in the Age of Change,and Escape from Management Hell.

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Table of Contents


Prologue
1. The Bones of Hammurabi
(Meet the original control freak)
2. Those Amazing Digit-Heads
(A brief history of decision-making)
3. The Golden Egg Cafe
(How compromise chokes innovation)
4. Caligula's Chariot Race
(Quality challenges a cheat)
5. The Lost Cult of Consensus
(The only thing everyone can agree on)
6. The Labyrinth of Bull
(Where bureaucracy is king)
7. The Tell-Tale Telex
(Shame is a management skill)
8. Cataract Woman
(Why we need "the vision thing")
9. Constantine's Culture Change
(The change master from hell)
10. The Hungry Thoughts of Slaves
(Who will lead us?)
11. Killer Bees
(How consulting got started)
12. Augustine's Confession
(Finding the limits of management)

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Endorsements

"In this work of supremely funny fiction, Gilbreath takes the reader on a fanciful trek through hell with twelve managers. Each tale is delightfully instructive as the managers try to escape by entertaining Satan with tales of their business follies."

-Business Ethics magazine

"A super book-one I predict will be a bestseller and a major contribution think it is better than Zapp, One Minute Manager, and Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, our three best examples of bestselling management parables."

-Chip R. Bell, author of Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service, Customers As Partners, and Managers As Mentors

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