Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment by William C. Byham with Jeff Cox

Zapp! is a management book that teaches managers how to empower their workers. Far from being a dry manual that just talks at you, the book is actually a tale about a company named Normal Company which was based in Normalberg, USA and made a product called Normalators. The manager of Dept. N was a man named Joe Mode, and under him worked a man named Ralph Rosco. Ralph, working on his own using miscellaneous parts from Normalators, builds his own machine, the Ralphinator (Yeah, I know it sounds like something that makes or helps you to throw up... but we're being VERY SERIOUS here).

Using the Ralphinator brings anyone using it to dimension 12, where you can see the emotions of everyone around you, and Department N is dismal. The employees are just doing the minimum of work required by their jobs and no one really cares about getting things right.

However, there is one area of the company that is different, Department Z, led by a woman named Lucy Storm. All her employees have lightning coming off of them and are empowered to fight against bad business problems. Ralph reveals this to Joe Mode, who wants his own department to look like Department Z. But getting there will be a series of uphill battles as Joe figures out, with Ralph's help, how to Zapp his employees and not Sapp them, or take their energy and enthusiasm away.

This small book has some unintentionally funny moments, such as Ralph names everything after himself, so we get the Ralphinator and the Ralphone, both of which made me think more of someone being sick to their stomach and less about being helpful to someone in a business.

The book is organized into chapters that lead Ralph and Joe from energizing and zapping the people under them, to affecting other departments and their own company. The book ends with Joe imparting the Zapp! philosophy to a new hire and reiterating the main principles of the book.

Now, I'm not a manager, nor do I read many books on management, but this one caught my eye for the style of the book, which is in story form, and therefore easier to read than standard management books, which can usually double for sleep aids. Also, it's short, and therefore a quick, easy read. While I can't testify for how well the ideas work, it's a cute book whose style will impart the ideas painlessly and cause them to linger long after the book is done.

1 comment:

Kathi Frampton said...

I really enjoyed this book for the useful tips it gives to new and seasoned managers. Another great book commentary from Lady Rhian.