Holy Crap, finally done: High Impact Management

Reading a business book in public like High Output Management feels like the dorkiest thing in the world. All I think is, “what a try-hard this guy is.” But the cool thing is I’m not in high school anymore and caring about things is cool. So f* those people (who probably don’t exist) judging me.

I started this book on April 20, 2022 (again…originally started multiple times before but just could not make it past the first few pages) –

Here are the takeaways: (this guys took way better notes: https://medium.com/ceoeducation/notes-on-high-output-management-19b8017495d4 )

Chapter 1:

  • Remember the breakfast factory: our job is to understand the “limiting step” in the process
  • Don’t let the wrong step be the limiting step
  • The black box of creating things: how might you create holes in the process to check on things being made and make sure they’re being created
  • QA – In-process test vs functional tests
  • Try and detect problems as soon as possible in the process, it’s the lowest value stage

Chapter 2

  • More on Blackbox Indicators – How do you keep an eye on things? Here are the big chunky phases to create indicators:
    • Sales forecasts – and how do you measure confidence and adjust the forecast process
    • Material management
    • Condition of equipment
    • Workforce
    • Quality
  • Don’t overfit your indicators – “You get what you measure” to avoid this you can pair indicators to create a balance (should add an example here
  • Linearity Indicators vs Trend Indicators (example: measuring output against linearly should show continuous progress as opposed to huge pushes as a deadline comes up
  • What if need to make compromises in QA – you need to do it with a well balanced management team but never ever mess with reliability
  • Leverage
    • Pg. 35 started to hit on how you can change how you work to get more leverage
    • Output vs Activity
    • Embassy example – when 98% are approved when everything single is reviewed…they should move to sample tests

Ok, the rest of the Chapters.

At some point you have to just finish something and that’s where I got with this book. So many great things in there but also I’ll need to revisit. Here are the things that really stood out to me:

  • Remember the breakfast factory:
    • What are your limiting steps?
    • How can you cut holes in the factory box?
    • Where can you find leverage?
  • Strive for output that aligns with outcomes
  • Don’t let the process become the thing – that aligns with Wiggly
  • Be a coach: No credit, Be tough, Good coachs were good players

Excercise at the end of Book

Great things to do after reading this book:


  • Identify the operations in your work most like process, assembly, and test production.
  • For a project you are working on, identify the limiting step and map out the flow of work around it.
  • Define the proper places for the equivalents of receiving inspection, in-process inspection, and final inspection in your work. Decide whether these inspections should be monitoring steps or gate-like. Identify the conditions under which you can relax things and move to a variable inspection scheme.
  • Identify half a dozen new indicators for your group’s output. They should measure both the quantity and quality of the output.
  • Install these new indicators as a routine in your work area, and establish their regular review in your staff meetings.
  • What is the most important strategy (plan of action) you are pursuing now? Describe the environmental demand that prompted it and your current status or momentum. Is your strategy likely to result in a satisfactory state of affairs for you or your organization if successfully implemented?


  • Conduct work simplification on your most tedious, time-consuming task. Eliminate at least 30 percent of the total number of steps involved.
  • Define your output: What are the output elements of the organizations you can influence? List them in order of importance.
  • Analyze your information and knowledge gathering system. Is it properly balanced among “headlines” and “weekly news magazines”? Is redundancy built in?
  • Take a “tour”. Afterward, list the transactions you got involved during the course.
    Create a once-a-month “excuse” for a tour.
  • Describe how you will monitor the next project you delegate to a subordinate. What will you look for? How? How frequently?
  • Generate an inventory of projects on which you can work at discretionary times.
  • Hold a scheduled one-on-one with each of your subordinates. (Explain to them in advance what a one-on-one is about. Have them prepare for it.)
  • Look at your calendar for the last week. Classify your activities as low/medium/high leverage. Generate a plan of action to do more of the high-leverage category. (What activities will you reduce?)
  • Forecast the demand on your time for the next week. What portion on your time is likely to be spent on meetings? Which of these are process-oriented meetings? Mission-oriented meetings? If the latter are over 25 percent of your total time, what should you do to reduce them?
  • Define the three most important objectives for your organization for the next three months. Support them with key results.
  • Have your subordinates do the same for themselves, after a thorough discussion of the set generated above.
  • Generate an inventory of pending decisions you are responsible for. Take three and structure the decision-making process for them, using the six-question approach.
  • Evaluate your own motivational state in terms of the Maslow hierarchy. Do the same for each of your subordinates.
  • Give your subordinates a racetrack: define a set of performance indicators for each.
  • List the various forms of task-relevant feedback your subordinates receive. How well can they gauge their progress through them?
  • Classify the task-relevant maturity of each of your subordinates as low, medium, or high.
  • Evaluate the management style that would be most appropriate for each. Compare what your own style is with what it should be.
  • Evaluate the last performance review you received and also the last set of reviews you gave to your subordinates as a means of delivering task-relevant feedback. How well did the reviews do to improve performance? What was the nature of the communication process during the delivery of each?
  • Redo one of these reviews as it should have been done.