March 6, 2001
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Why I Hate Flying
This is a strange and wonderful little book. I deeply respect the people who are running the new publishing company called Texere because of their outstanding track record, and I also have a huge respect for Henry Mintzberg, one of the greatest contemporary thinkers on strategy. When I heard about this book, I thought, all right, the great professor Mintzberg is going to show the airlines how flawed their strategy is and how they should fix it. Nope, that isnt what this book is about. Instead, it is the authors very funny rant about his personal airline and airport experiences. Surprised? I was, but the result is delightful.
Mintzberg makes it clear from the start that Why I Hate Flying will not be like any other management books, saying, No chapter begins: Five easy steps to. He then warns that if management advise is what you are looking for, then you should read the book carefully and do the opposite. Some of the shots he levels at the airlines are obvious and I have heard them before, but he presents them with almost Leno-style humor. Laugh out loud funny. His tale about cashing money in at Heathrowor as he calls it Haltrowis especially hilarious. But Mintzberg hasnt completely ignored the traditional business book approach, because the subtitle of each chapter has a business flair for those readers who need a little guidance. An example that speaks for itself?
Chapter 12: Why I Hate Airports Even MoreSubtitled
Consider this to be the chapter on Benchmarking. Not marking benches, imitating. Benchmarking means comparing your organization to others that are better than yours so that, at best, you can become second bestalongside everyone else. Becoming good is another matter. Here we ask: Can airports become, if not good, at least almost as good as airlines?
One of the things that you, the business book consumer, may have noticed in the past few years is that business books are getting shorter. Does that mean there is less to say on the subject? Of course not. Instead, I imagine that somebody somewhere hypothesized correctly that business people might want to be able to read and digest a business book during a long plane ride, and, ta da!, a new trend was set. (Who Moved My Cheese and FISH! are the perfect examples of how popular (and valuable) these quick reads can be). This little book, Why I Hate to Fly, is indeed the perfect airplane read, for obvious reasons. Pick up a copy and make your next flight an enlightening one.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.