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As I read this handbook, I was again reminded of Albert Einstein's suggestion that "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." For more than a decade, Jensen has been a staunch advocate of simplification (publishing Simplicity in 2001 and Work 2.0 in 2003 as well as several e-docs which can be easily downloaded from Amazon) but never recommends that essentials ever be diminished by the elimination of the superfluous. This is a key point. In this volume, he offers 32 practical ways by which to do less inorder to accomplish more. "I've designed a book of workarounds and shut-off valves -- ways to get around or stop the senseless stuff that comes at you every day." Presumably Jensen agrees with Stephen Covey that most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important. To say this is a "handbook" is to correctly suggest that it is a WORKbook. All of the material is valuable but not all of it is immediately relevant to a given reader's immediate needs. Hence Jensen's advice: "Pick (only) the three or four chapters that scream at you...Follow the steps in each chapter [and then] Rip out the Do-Less Toolkit pages at the back of the book...Tack `em up wherever you'll see them every day. Be one with the pages. Do less."
Jensen organizes his material within three Sections: Daily Rituals, Career Milestones, and Leader Essentials. In each, he provides a series of "How tos" in combination with appropriate metrics by which to (a) measure the current situation, (b) identify what must be done to improve it, and then (c) measure the progress of improvement initiatives. For example, the "Less-O-Meters" track Courage, Difficulty, and Yield. All this is much less complicated than I may now indicate. The greatest difficulty, obviously, is taking appropriate ACTION and staying with Jensen's program. The road to self-improvement is paved with good intentions but, too often, is soon abandoned. Most of those who purchase this handbook do so because they sense a great need in their lives to eliminate what is not essential to it. It is human nature to begin with high hopes and great expectations and then become discouraged or distracted. That phenomenon is quite common and illustrates precisely why this handbook will be of greatest benefit to those who need it most because they are most vulnerable to procrastination.
It will also be of substantial benefit to victims of what Jensen characterizes as "corporate crap." For example, quite some time ago, editors of a magazine (whose name I have forgotten) conducted a "Dilbert Quotations" contest. They were looking for people to submit quotations from their real-life Dilbert-type managers.
Here are some of the finalists:
1. "As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks." (This was the winning quotation from Fred Dales at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, WA.)
2. "What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter." (Lykes Lines Shipping)
3. "E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business." (Accounting manager, Electric Boat Company)
4. "We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees." (Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)
5. One day my Boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow would be soon enough. He said "If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!" (New business manager, Hallmark Greeting Cards)
I urge you to purchase this handbook and follow Jensen's suggestion that you skim-read it from cover-to-cover. While doing so, you will immediate recognize those portions which are of most immediate relevance to your own circumstances, both at work and in your private life. Focus on those sections initially. Precisely follow the step-by-step process which Jensen recommends. Because you will be embarking on an especially difficult journey, expect to encounter obstacles along the way, experiencing frustration and "combat fatigue" as you do so. Stay the course! For Dorothy and her valiant companions, there was yellow brick road for them to follow during their journey to the Emerald City. Whatever your own destination may be, Jensen offers this handbook which can become a yellow brick road for you.
Bon voyage!
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on May 13, 2005
What I like about this biz book:

1) Its fun and challenging "If your boss doesn't get it, and has a high likelihood of never getting it... time to say "goodbye". Pretty simple right?

2) Attitude of "You don't have to be a victim of corporate crap"... reminds me of a refrain I have heard from my husband when he talks about his day job "They can't even run their own life, I will be damned it they run mine"

3) Respect yourself more. Your time is valuable. Push back.

4) The complexity starts from within. From within my own company, within myself.

The How To Section(s)
Scan incoming subject and author, if not relevant hit "delete"
Scan email for 1) action to take 2) deadline date.

In sending messages use the 3"x5" space constaint.

If it is simplier it is more likely to be done. Make it easy.

Remember the key: what do you want them to know, feel and do!

Turn the one point you want people to know into a question. Provoke conversations. Give everyone handouts. Use of Stories is a good thing.
1 hour presentation = 20 slides MAX!

Meetings Big Idea!! When you agree to chair a meeting approachit as if you have just been handed a portion of someones life. Because you have. Run a meeting like one that you wish you had been invited for.

Helpful hints 1) get only the important people 2) get the right people 3) define what success looks like 4) Mentally see the successful meeting 5) Put the objective of the meeting up front
6) Be passionate about the people and reason of the meeting.
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on November 4, 2003
I work hard. I am a really good employee, and teammate, and manager, and mother, wife, and, and...And I just can't keep up with it all. No matter how hard I try, more just keeps coming at me. I was ready to crash and burn, then I came across this book. Thank you Survival Handbook, thank you!
Bill Jensen has found the best practices for shutting off the noise and stupid things that come at me every day and organized them into easy to use chapters. Among my favorites: How to Delete 75% of Your emails...How to Say No to Anyone in Any Situation...How to Deal with Teammates Who Pile It On...How to Deal with the Stupidity of Performance Appraisals.
His instructions are clear and easy to follow. I love his LessOMeters! Get this book if you're interested in doing less of the stupid things at work and more of what really matters.
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on November 5, 2003
Bill Jensen's newest book is both an easy-to-read guide to leadership in tough times, and an immensely practical tool for focusing on what matters at work and in your life. For anyone who's followed Bill's teachings since his best-seller, Simplicity, this is the how-to book you've been craving! If you're not familiar with Bill's work, you're in for a treat.
Years ago, I attended one of Bill's workshops as his ideas were just forming. It had a huge impact on my life! What Bill's really about is helping you see the choices you have in life, and then making different ones. Everything he writes about, and is wildly passionate about, comes down to three core ideas: 1) Respect. Doing less of what doesn't matter and more of what does is about increasing the respect you have for yourself and for others. 2) Control. Bill has researched the biggest things that waste our time, energy, and talent, and most of them are within our control. We can choose to react differently, be differently, communicate differently. Bill's how-to's are all about taking back more control in ways that not only keep you employed, they enhance your effectiveness and productivity. 3) Time. If you practice even one-tenth of what Bill teaches, you will gain back a most irreplaceable asset -- time. Time to spend with your kids, or yourself, or others. While Bill writes about workplace issues, really he's giving you the tools to change your life.
Bill Jensen has a place among some of today's top business thinkers -- Jim Collins, Clayton Christensen, Noel Tichy, John Kotter, Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis, and more -- not because he thinks big thoughts, but because he thinks about everyday issues, like Studs Terkel does. He studies organizational structures, practices, tools, and processes, all from the perspective of the people who use them. That bottom-up view grounds his big thinking in day-to-day challenges and realities.
Get Simplicity to change your thinking, and get Simplicity Survival Handbook as the follow-up, how-to manual. Give copies of both to your teammates and your boss. They'll thank you for saving them so much time, and getting back control over their lives too.
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on February 16, 2004
I can't believe there have been ten reviews posted about this book and yet not one of them touches on the single most important thing Jensen teaches in this follow-up to the brilliant Simplicity. The most important number in business is:
That is the number of minutes you get to spend every day.
How do you spend yours?
When someone asks for some of your time (in an e-mail, hallyway conversation, phone call, meeting, etc.) ask yourslef how many of your 1440 are you being asked to invest.
Everything else in the book is tactics. Great tactics, don't get me wrong. But this is the one great truth in the book. Time is finite. You only get so much. Spend it wisely.
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on December 2, 2003
The day I started reading this book, I was faced with not one or two, but five examples of why the Simplicity Survival Handbook is so necessary. 1) I was sent way too many emails, all of which were "must reads." 2) I was invited to attend too many "must attend" meetings. 3) I was asked to put together a presentation to the big boss, and all the in-between bosses were adding their two cents without adding anything. 4) I needed to justify my budget in a more concise and compelling way than just connecting it to this year's strategic plan. 5) Two of my newest hires wanted to essentially rewrite their orientation and training programs to be a lot more useful to them.
I discovered Jensen has fully researched each of these problems, plus dozens more, and provided easy how-to's for each. The step-by-step how-to's really work (...he provides percentages of likely success...with each of these five, I actually did better than he promised!), and are easy to execute, if you're willing to challenge yourself. But be forewarned: If you want a For Dummies book that asks little of you...this handbook is not for you. Anytime I started to feel like "Of course I'd like to do this, buuuuuut," or "I can't do this becauuuuuuuse...," I immediately thought of the cartoon character Pogo, who famously said "We have met the enemy and he is us."
If you are seeking an author who believes in his readers enough to lay out the whole truth...asking us to ask ourselves tough questions at the same time he doles out extremely useful how-to's...then, this is one of the most important books you can buy this year!
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on February 2, 2004
I have to tell you, I'm done with authors, managers, and companies who ask me to "embrace change," and share tips for "lifelong journeys". I need some help -- now. Can anybody help with all the little things, so they don't add up to big things, and so I'm in more control of my own life?
Yes! Jensen's tips are huge helps! I've started writing memos and emails and presentations and running meetings exactly the way this book describes, and _every single person_ I work with has said, "This is really helpful." "This is so much more useful than what I'm getting from so-and-so." "I really appreciate what you've done. We can be so much more effective now. Thank you!"
These tips have made a huge difference in how focused my team and I are, and how effectively we get things done, and the respect we're earning from everyone else. And most important to me: It took minutes to master the basics...not months or years.
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on May 14, 2004
With a title like this, Jensen's book should be flying off the shelf. I know it caught my eye when I first saw it. We all want to "do" less and "accomplish" more and there are some excellent ideas in this book to help you do just that.
Nothing in this book is easy, though. Someone as inclined to follow the rules like myself will find it difficult, if not impossible, to implement the more demanding recommendations. This is a shame, as these people are those who would probably benefit the most.
Even if you don't think of yourself as a rabble-rouser, you should still read this book and take heart that there are some possible methods of extracting yourself from business situations that leave you feeling busy, but not very productive. There are ways of escaping the bureaucracy and yet keep your job.
The cutest, yet still effective, idea in the book is the "Less-O-Meter" associated with each chapter. These graphical gauges give you an "at a glance" reading on how much Courage you will need to put this tip in place, how difficult it can be and the possible yield to your productivity and happiness.
You may be ready to take on your whole company and engage in full-scale "pushback", but implementing even one idea from this book could do a world of good for you, your job and your career, while helping your company, as well.
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on September 25, 2005
Bill Jensen's ideas and tactics have crystallized my ability to be effective. I read "The Simplicity Survival Handbook" before reading Jensen's original "Simplicity", and for me, "Simplicity" is superior because (1) it explains the rationale behind Jensen's ideas and (2) offers invaluable guidance on effective presentations. "The Simplicity Survival Handbook" 's examples were not as helpful to me as the initial wisdom and suggestions in "Simplicity". Read them both!
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on November 4, 2003
Part of what made Jim Collins' Good to Great so powerful was how
thoroughly he researched his subject. Jensen does the same with his study of work.
Why should we ignore so much Corporate Communication? Because only 6% of senior executives believe strategic communication includes the design of information people can use to make decisions. Why follow the four steps he describes for going to fewer meetings? Because people who did immediately reported a 10% to 30% reduction in meetings attended. Why redesign your own New-Hire Orientation? Because 76% of people don't get what they need, and he interviewed them to find what they wished they'd gotten instead. Every chapter is based on years of studying how workplaces operate.
For people who find some of the recommendations challenging, Jensen offers Less O Meters, where he's asked a panel of experts to evaluate the Courage, Difficulty, and Yield behind implementing the steps. Not every recommendation is easy, but at least he tells you that up front and lets you decide. While this book is clearly aimed at how frustrated we all are with too much to do, and makes it easy to start immediately doing less, Jensen respects the intelligence of his readers.
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