Have you come across this great book by William Oncken Jr? It's full of actionable stuff to help make sure you are doing the right work. The "monkey" concept is particularly good.

Mark's picture
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I purchased and read Managing Management Time based on your recommendation. I was familiar with Oncken from his Monkey video and collaboration with Ken Blanchard.

Alas, I found the book not helpful. I kept expecting it to provide insights, or to give me suggestions, but it never did. I thought many of his examples were notably dated and so less valuable today.

I wanted to like it - honest!


ChrisG*son's picture

I've not read his book, but I have read Oncken's article "Management Time: Who's Got the Monkey?" which is apparently the 2nd most requested reprint in the HBR library.

As Stephen Covey observes in his commentary on the re-issue of this article as an “HBR Classic,” Who’s Got the Monkey? “remains a powerful wake-up call for managers who need to delegate.” But he also points out that it doesn't explore the skills necessary to [i]delegate effectively[/i].

Sure, the article calls for delegation, but it’s the delegation of a dictator; Oncken suggests saying to one’s “subordinate”: “When this meeting is over, the problem will leave this office exactly as it came in—on your back. [But] you may ask for my help at any appointed time.”

Given how dated it is, and how limited it is in addressing the need for effective delegation, I’m astonished this article is as popular as it is. I think Who’s Got the Monkey? became so popular largely due to two factors: 1) because it resonates with managers’ intense frustration in dealing with problems they thought they’d delegated, but even more so 2) because of the cute and visual metaphor of responsibility being a monkey on one’s back. Management writers take note—the rage may be numbers (e.g. 7 Habits…, 21 Rules…), but readers are drawn to visual metaphors.