Tolkien and Modern Management

In a dream, I imagined trawling through Tolkien’s papers and unfinished manuscripts and finding a completely new text. It was originally called Seven Habits of Highly Effective Characters of Destiny – with a scrawled marginal note showing that puckish humour that Tolkien is known for where he’s changed this to 7 Hobbits – but Tolkien eventually settled for Middle Earth and Middle Managers For Dummies.

Here are some of the chapter titles:

  1. Performance Reviews and the All Seeing Eye
  2. Restructuring the Mordor Way
  3. Handling Difficult Customers – Bloodshed is only one option!
  4. Massed Battles and Occupational Health and Safety
  5. Equal Opportunity means it’s Orcs and Elves!
  6. Leadership and Kingship – do the two go together?
  7. Meetings Go Better with Dwarves!
  8. Change Management and Prophecies – does this mean more planning time?
  9. The Difference between HR Departments and Evil Empires (short chapter, that one)
  10. How to Win/Win and still crush your enemies into the dust they deserve

Middle-earth for Middle Managers is full of pithy, down to earth advice for anyone who has anything to do with a large organisation. Here are some gems:

‘Frodo was much more centred, career-wise, once he’d articulated a concrete goal: throwing the Ring of Power into the Cracks of Doom. Note how his goal was SMART: specific (not just any ring – THE ONE RING), measurable (how many rings is he actually able to throw into the Cracks of Doom?), attainable (well, in theory), realistic (crossing the tractless wilderness while being hunted by the Nine Nazgul? Well,technically, I suppose it was realistic) and timely (to avoid the end of the world as he knew it).’

‘Conflict Resolution has its limitations. Mediation sessions bringing slavering orc soldiers and their foes together rarely end well.’

‘Interviews. When being interviewed by wizards, elven kings or any other beings more than a thousand years old, banging on about your experience is a poor tactic.’

And finally, Tolkien’s never fail dictum: ‘When confronted by a difficult situation – an uncooperative co-worker, a boss who files her nails during your performance view or even just working in an office where no-one puts their dirty dishes in the dishwasher no matter how many signs you put up, just ask yourself: ‘What would Gandalf do?’

In the box where my dream discovered Middle-earth for Middle Managers I found that Tolkien had  left more notes for books on a variety of topics, and it’s a shame he never got around to writing them.

Relationships – Dwarves are from Mars, Elves are from Venus

Lifestyle Books – Better Homes and Dungeons

Travel – Middle Earth on Five Gold Pieces a Day!

Cooking – Gordon Ramsay’s Mordor Nightmare

Self Help Books – My Precious, Your Precious, OUR Precious

It’s too good not to be true.