Today, a book review, of sorts. And boyoboy, when I cracked that spine, did I ever expect to dislike that book (more on why in a moment). But I found I liked it, quite a bit.

Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

The book is titled “Enchantment,” and it came across my desk a few weeks ago (it goes on sale beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8). Like all such unsolicited offers, this one came with a request: Review, please.

My first inclination was not to do that very thing—and not just because the subtitle had an unnecessary comma.

No, a better reason made me skeptical of “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions,” by Guy Kawasaki.

You see, there are a few sections I tend to ignore in Borders (when they used to be open): self-help, or management, or marketing.

I do understand that there is much to be learned in all of those segments of a store—and of our minds. But most of the offerings are so cripplingly bad, it makes your teeth hurt.

Message to authors: The bullet point is a tool to be used occasionally; it is not a magical roadmap to your entire volume. And unless you are James Joyce, the sentence fragment is a painfully bad mashup of a conversation and a written volume; it is a brain fart, not a stroke of genius.

So Kawasaki’s text had to overcome my own long-held prejudices, before he even got to his message.

And I’m pleased to say he did just that.

But first, for those who prefer to learn visually, here’s a neat infographic provided by the publisher. Charming, that. 

Enchantment Infographic

The “former chief evangelist at Apple” achieved success from the get-go, with a cover that is striking and evocative. In fact, the story of the cover’s evolution warrants its own epilogue, where he explains “how it took 260 people to make this cover.” If you decide to get this book (and you should), read that first.

The book’s structure takes you on a natural progression toward what he calls “enchantment,” the skill and art to alter someone else’s views and beliefs—and therefore actions. As he writes, it “transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It reshapes civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”

Is it “marketing”? Sure, that’s part of it. But it’s marketing + delight.

The book makes even us cynics recall what it is that we find alluring about our jobs and professions. It examines trustworthiness and likability (the deep kind, not the Facebook variety). It talks about sustaining enchantment once you’ve fostered it, and how to marshal technology in that effort.

Guy Kawasaki, who could enchant a brick wall.

The last few chapters explain “how to enchant your boss” and “how to enchant your employees.” And for me, some of that writing resonated the most of all. Here are two examples in regard to your employees.

First, Kawasaki talks about empowering your employees to do the right thing:

“Your best employees want to serve and delight your customers. … Let your employees do the right thing, and you’ll enchant them. And then they will enchant your customers.”

Easy to say, but how about a specific or two? He provides just that, in regard to performance appraisals.

“People often judge their intentions against the results of others: ‘I intended to meet my sales quota, but you missed yours.’ By doing this, they seldom find fault with their performance and almost always find shortcomings in the performance of others.

“If you want to enchant employees, you should reverse this outlook: Judge yourself by what you’ve accomplished and others by what they intended. This means that you are harsher on yourself than others and embrace an understanding attitude like ‘at least his intentions were good.’”

This passage put me in mind of an excellent article titled “Why Your Boss Is Wrong About You” that ran in the New York Times.

In the op-ed, Samuel Culbert, a management professor at UCLA, dissects all that is wrong with the typical American performance appraisal. Among other things, he argues that they only masquerade as being objective, when in fact they often are self-serving (and not in favor of the employee).

He offers an alternative: the idea of a “performance preview”:

“Instead of top-down reviews, both boss and subordinate are held responsible for setting goals and achieving results. No longer will only the subordinate be held accountable for the often arbitrary metrics that the boss creates. Instead, bosses are taught how to truly manage, and learn that it’s in their interest to listen to their subordinates to get the results the taxpayer is counting on.

“Instead of the bosses merely handing out A’s and C’s, they work to make sure everyone can earn an A. And the word goes out: ‘No more after-the-fact disappointments. Tell me your problems as they happen; we’re in it together and it’s my job to ensure results.’”

Kawasaki’s book also is focused on ensuring results, and I’ll leave you with one anecdote he describes in his book. It is about the power of welcoming the devil’s advocate to your business or organization.

“From 1587 to 1983, the Catholic Church appointed people to argue against the canonization of particular individuals who were being considered for sainthood. The advocatus diaboli, or devil’s advocate, role was to find fault with candidates to ensure saintly saints.

“When the practice ended after the election of Pope John Paul II, an explosion in the number of canonizations occurred. During his reign the church canonized five hundred people, compared to ninety-eight during the reign of all his twentieth-century predecessors.”

Are we all doing all we can to focus on results, and to show that rocking the boat is acceptable—and may even lead to sailing into more profitable streams? Probably not. Have we allowed too many sacred cows to be enshrined in the way we do business? No doubt.

Read this new book. It is practical, whimsical, readable, and occasionally enchanting.

Here’s where to get the book.

And here is the book detail:

Name: Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
Page count: 224
Suggested retail price: $US 26.95
Year of first printing: 2011
ISBN: 9781591843795