cover image Millers Bolt PB

Millers Bolt PB

Thomas Stirr. Basic Books, $15 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-201-14379-9

A rose is a rose is a rose, and this first novel is actually an extended description of effective management techniques disguised as a parable. After being told by his boss that he has three months to turn his performance around, top marketing manager Jim Manion turns to his close friend, motivational guru Peter Miller, for help. Recognizing that Manion is alienating his co-workers, Miller sets out to change the way Manion understands his own role in creating his troubles. The title refers to a piece of hardware that Miller uses as an analogy for something called a ""performance spiral,"" indicating that no one is static, that we are all either moving up or down, getting better or worse. The first turn upward for Manion comes after a formerly cantankerous manufacturing manager cooperates with him on a critical project, thanks to Miller's sage advice. Later, a devious sales manager drives Manion back to the basic truth that our perceptions and our reactions to those perceptions create the world we live in. Although the story clips along quickly enough, the happy ending is as predictable as a commuter's daily route. Stirr, a Toronto-based manager much influenced by Ken Blanchard (The One-Minute Manager), who contributes a foreword, ignores the complexities of human behavior to highlight business insights in a novel that's more closely related to propaganda than to literature. (Apr.)