February 20, 2003

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The Cure

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 4:25 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Cure: Enterprise Medicine at Work, by Dan Paul & Jeff Cox, John Wiley & Sons, $24.95 Hardcover, January 2003, ISBN 0471268305, 350 pages
At the end of the last decade, I decided to compile a list of The Bestselling Business Books of the 1990s. I was surprised to find that the same guy wrote #1, The Goal, and #2, Zapp!: Jeff Cox. One guy penning our top 2 books of the decade! Pretty impressive. Why is Cox such a successful business author? Essentially, he is an expert at novelizing (did I just make up a new word?) consultants philosophies. Eliyahu Goldratt and Bill Byham submitted their philosophies to his magic pen and found a great deal of success. Coxs newest collaboration pairs him with Dan Paul, producing the fantastic The Cure.
Most business novels are in fact not novels, but fables, with an imaginary guru who leads a company to the Promised Land of profitability. See either of the two Cox books listed above, if that is what youre looking for. But The Cure works a bit differently, and in my opinion, very successfully. This story features a company mired in the muck of corporate politics, a weak product line, no vision, and having to do creative bookkeeping to hit the monthly numbers. Defined by Paul and Cox, the company is sick. The cure to the companys ills is a change initiative that will create a boundaryless management culture. Thought only GE could succeed in creating such a reformation? Paul and Cox tell us that it is possible for every company, and shows us the model through this novel. The manuscript I read had the book broken down into four major parts: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Cure. These sections effectively give the reader a way of understanding and participating in the process of change and the creation of a new management culture.
It is Coxs writing style that really drives the story and serves to make the reader a part of the conversion. By giving each key character a distinct voice, we are reminded of people whom we have met and may even sit in the desk next to us. These characters interact realistically and act pragmatically, and as a result we are invested in how these people tackle their challenges and create real solutions. The company does hire a consultant who helps uncover the hidden issues and agendas of the senior and middle managers, and serves as a catalyst for change. But it is the fictional employees who do the work, and inspire readers to reflect on what our own employees or departments can do to facilitate and sustain change. A guru is all fine and good, but true change has longevity, and to solidify that change, youve got to get down and dirty and do it yourself.
To give you an idea of how good this book is, I stayed up late last night to finish it. Think about that: postponing sleep over a business book! Just like a novel, and just, I would imagine, as Jeff Cox planned.