The One Minute Apology

By William Keogan,
More good advice from the One Minute Manager.
Author Rating: 
4.0 Stars - Very Good

Another in the One Minute Manager series, this book presents its recommendations in the context of a story. A young man, the assistant to the president of a troubled company, seeks guidance from the One Minute Manager (OMM) and his family, about how to save the business.

One of the most difficult things a person may have to do in life, OMM says to the young man, is to admit having made mistakes. Apologizing for mistakes is an important step in restoring trust, which is a crucial element both in business dealings and personal relationships.To apologize successfully, a person must surrender to truths he or she would prefer not to face. Having done this, the person should write a statement that says exactly what the mistakes were. OMM is quick to emphasize that 'one minute' refers to how long it takes to read the statement, and that the time devoted to writing it is likely to be much longer. The person should apologize promptly, OMM asserts, and let actions reinforce his or her words. The book includes a couple of examples of how actions can underpin mere words. As the story progresses OMM repeats and expands upon this advice.. One of the most interesting observations OMM makes is that one should not apologize merely to bring a problem to an end, but because apologizing is the right thing to do, whether or not the desired outcome results. This is part of a broader concept represented by the acronym N.A.T.O.-not attached to outcomes. OMM suggests that good things happen when people stop worrying only about winning or losing. It strikes me that such an approach is useful in creative brainstorming.

By the end of the story, the young man has admitted that he should have been more forthright in keeping the president apprised of the company's troubles. Also, the company president has apologized to the board of directors, and has begun to make changes that will turn the business around. At first I thought the story was too facile. Everything clicked too easily. I realized then, that the goal of this book was not to show how complex life can be, but to encourage the reader to consider a particular course of action. The One Minute Apology reveals simple truths that will benefit most people. For those in a great hurry, there is a two page summary of the recommendations at the end of the book.

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