Sunday, November 10, 2013

Survey says most nonprofit managers haven’t read the management books on their shelf

A new survey of US non-profit managers has discovered that most of them haven’t read the management books on their office shelf.

The survey of 2,000 nonprofit managers by a team of researchers from the University of Southwestern North Dakota found that 70 percent couldn’t recall one conclusion or recommendation from the management books currently on their shelf. Half said they actually hadn’t read them, but were going to. A third said they just bought or borrowed the books and had no intention of reading them.

“People have always thought that this generation of non-profit managers was one of the best-educated. Charities have poured millions of dollars and hours of time into training them. But now we learn that most of them haven’t even read the management books on their shelf,”
said lead research Dr. Dibble Brewer.

Researchers say that follow-up interviews and focus groups found that managers fell into three groups. The first group was well-intentioned and had every intention of reading the books like  Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins. However, none of them had any time.

“I got that Good to Goat book or whatever that the CEO is raving about at every one of our meetings and I was going to read it. But then, I got bogged down in the new coffee fund policy and stuff and I forgot it. It’s been sitting on my shelf for about a year,” said one respondent.

The second group identified by researchers were less well-intentioned.

“I got The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and put it on the corner of my desk,” said one focus group member. “Immediately, finance started taking my ideas seriously. My staff started listening more in meetings. I’m getting more management books.”

The third group was hard to quantify. Dr. Brewer said at least ten percent of the respondents and focus group members denied that they read the books and then denied even buying them in the first place, and, in some cases, denied they could even read.

“In one case, we had a manager in the focus group who had The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker on her shelf. She said he hadn’t read it. Then she said he was Peter F. Drucker. And to top it off she produced a hand-puppet who said she was too busy to talk to us any further,” said Dr. Brewer.

“And that person was the head of a major hospital foundation.”


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