Indie Spotlight Interview with John Hunter

John Hunter – Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability

Genre: Non-fiction – Business, Management

Price: $5 – $15 (the web site lets you you set the price from within that range)

Author Bio:

John Hunter combines technology with management expertise to improve the performance of organizations. He has served as an information technology program manager for the American Society for Engineering Education, the Office of Secretary of Defense Quality Management Office and the White House Military Office.

John created and operates one of the first, and most popular, management resources on the internet – Curious Cat Management. He continues to use the internet to aid managers in their efforts to improve their organizations. His blog is widely recognized as a valuable resource for leaders and managers.

He is the founder and CEO of, managing over 20 web sites on management, software development, investing, engineering, travel and other topics.

See for more details.

Tell us about your book:

Management Matters provides an overview for a systems view of management. My views are largely based on those of Dr. Deming, along with natural outgrowths and extensions of his ideas such as lean manufacturing and agile software development.

To achieve great results a continual focus on both achieving results today and building enterprise capability to maximize results over the long term is needed. Managers have many management concepts, practices and tools available to help them in this quest. The challenge is to create and continually build and improve a management system for the enterprise that leads to success. This book helps managers do that.

The book provides a framework for management thinking. With this framework the practices and tools can be applied to build enterprise capability and amplify positive results.

How long did it take to write the book?

6 months, once I decided to write a book. A great deal of the material is taken from my blog which I have been writing for 5 years.

What inspired you to write the book?

A combination of several things caused me to pursue writing my book. The success of my blog was a big factor in providing me evidence that people were interested in what I had do say. Also the blog allowed me to gain confidence in my writing. Another inspiration that help spark the desire was my father’s book: Statistics for Experimenters.

Another factor was my desire for a complete systems view. One of the challenges I have in writing my blog and talking to people is that I see the question of what should be done now (in managing and organization) is dependent on the state of many interdependent components of the organization. This systems view of management seems ideally suited to a book (versus the blog I have been writing).

The opportunity was provided by my move to Malaysia for what is probably best compared to a sabbatical (while not a completely accurate description it is the best I can come up with). When One of the ideas I had in the move was to consider writing a book. When I decided to decide if I really wanted to get started my plan initial thoughts were for more focused books (on specific management tools or practices) I could hopefully complete fairly quickly and potentially market well (as targeted solutions to provide immediate, visible improvement).

But in thinking about those potential books I kept finding myself wanting to place that practice within the proper context – determining when to use it, how to do so (depending on other factors) etc.. So I decided I would first write a overall management system book that then I could refer to in any specific application book. I also knew working on the complete management system would force me to consider a few ideas that I have left somewhat undeveloped in my thoughts; which I though would be a good thing to do.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

I started by taking my blog posts and filtering them (I used maybe 30% of them) and then organizing them into chapters for a book. I then saw several big gaps and several places where I had multiple posts to merge.

I started editing, and in some cases rewriting, the content from the blog. This took far longer than I imaged it would. Writing new content for the gaps was a big task. A big part of the reason they were gaps in the first place was the topics were more complex and were a challenge to think and write about.

I found an editor online and had them start editing the book as I was continuing to write. I also found a graphics person to create several graphics I wanted to use.

I didn’t have a set routine, I wrote when I felt like it. Some days I would write for a couple hours others for 10 hours or not write at all. The main research I did was verifying some details and confirming the accuracy and source of quotes.

The whole process has been quite rewarding but it also was much more work than I imagined when I started.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I hope they are able to improve to the performance of their organizations. I hope they can find useful ways of thinking and tools to help make them more effective and take joy in their work. I hope they can help create systems that provide those they work with the chance to take joy in their work.

Where can we go to buy your book?

The LeanPub website. The book is available in epub, mobi/kindle and pdf formats.

Any other links or info you’d like to share?

Excerpt from book:

The web site for the book also provides a free sample (about 70 pages from the book).

Building enterprise capability is similar to constructing a high rise building. A foundation is important, but not much value by itself. The frame of the building is important, but again, by itself not of much value. The electrical and plumbing are critical, but without the rest of the building would just collapse onto the ground. Stairs and elevators are needed, but without electricity the elevators won’t work and without rooms there is not much need to go up and down (other than maybe as a nice view).

As with building a high rise, building enterprise capability requires making a concerted effort across a range of areas. As skills are developed, people can better take advantage of tools to improve. As trust is built, the organization can rely on people to give honest data and feedback. As processes are continually improved less fire fighting is needed and more resources are available for innovation and customer focus. As less time is wasted explaining normal system variation (common cause variation), more energy can be devoted to developing skills and innovating. As systems are improved and variation reduced, systems become more robust; fewer customers are disappointed and less time is spent dealing with failures. As people apply management concept, practices and tools, they learn how to do so more effectively. As more resources are available to focus on process improvement the process of improving increases.

Each of the building blocks makes it possible to build even higher. But failing to address critical areas (for example, respect for people, will limit what results can be achieved). Human systems are dynamic and interrelated. Just applying tools that aid with process improvement without building the capacity to understand system thinking or variation can help, but gains are limited.

The most profound gains will only be achieved with a comprehensive focus on developing all the critical elements of the management system. As each area is developed, new opportunities become available. Improving processes is good. But improving the process by which you improve is better.

The web site that posted this deleted their interview series :-( so I have reposted it here.


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