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The World of Decorating the Fish by Kristen Cox and Yishai Ashlag

The full title of this book by by Kristen Cox and Yishai Ashlag is

The World of Decorating the Fish: Twelve Indicators That Will Make You Understand If You Are Decorating the Fish

In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book a 4 Stars rating. This means it is Good to Very Good.

Here is my book review.

Better than their first book but more to do

I took a risk buying this book because I only gave the original book 2 stars – 3 for the content with a star deducted for the formatting which made the kindle version hard to read.

The core idea is that much of what is done in organisations to drive improvement is nothing but a distracting waste of time, effort and money. This is the “decorating the fish” which I’ve heard previously referred to as “putting lipstick on a pig”.

This makes a lot of sense to me with my background in studying the Theory of Constraints. Eli Goldratt’s teaches that an improvement anywhere other than the constraint, is an illusion.

This book takes a more detailed look at the actions that are taken that only decorate the fish and explains why.

It’s therefore a guide to “what not to do”.

The authors say you should read this as well as the first book. I don’t feel that is necessary since I had returned it for my money back.

This is much better and the kindle formatting is fine except for the lead page each new section where the writing is tiny. It is interesting and most of the examples clearly explain why the actions won’t be effective. I did get lost in several because of unfamiliar acronyms from America.

However I still don’t feel the book is getting to the core of the issue. Managers have problems to solve and opportunities to chase. They need guidance on what to do to make positive progress.

Towards the end of each section, there is a short tip on how to take the right actions to avoid the particular decorating the fish problem but I don’t feel this is enough.

The sections then end with a series of questions to help you audit whether the proposed solution is likely to succeed or is decorating the fish. Again this is useful but, even better would be questions about the problem that direct you towards the effective solutions.

There is a lot to like about this book and it will certainly make you reflect on past actions that didn’t go to plan.

Sadly it’s not enough. I’m giving it four stars as it’s well worth a read but I encourage the authors to address how you analyse the visible symptoms and trace them back to the core problem and then move forward into designing effective solutions.

I urge you to learn a critical thinking process, even if it’s only a rehash of the tools that were used in the 1980s total quality programs like cause and effect analysis and the five why’s.

You can buy the book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com


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