Chaos for Breakfast by Robert A. Hall

Most “management” books focus on working in for-profit companies. By contrast, this was the first book I’ve read that specifically addressed non-profit organizations.

There was some of the usual stuff about working with managers and employees. But there were also sections on working with volunteers (as opposed to employees), working in mixed employee+volunteer settings, fund-raising, public relations, outreach, political lobbying and the use of metrics to improve how you work. In an era when so many for-profit companies are focused on short term quarterly profits, and not on longer term health of their organization, or their people, I found it refreshing to see these self-evident truths written down:

“…[it is your] responsibility to ensure that the association is still exists in 10 years time to do the good work”

“…[it is your] responsibility to leave organization in better shape then [you] found it.”

“keep everyone informed”. (Something I struggle with constantly, given the very distributed nature of RelEng here in Mozilla.)

At 99pages, its a quick read compared to all the weighty tomes you usually find in that section of the bookstore. Later, after some thought, I went back and read it again, skipping some sections, and carefully re-reading others slowly. He also referred to several other interesting books that I’d never heard of, making my wishlist even longer! I found his writing style terse, informative, down-to-earth, and occasionally a little repetitive. I since discovered the author is a Mensan, former US Marine and former Massachusetts State Senator, which explains a lot! 🙂

Overall, it was repetitive in a few places, not relevant to Mozilla in a few places, but I still found it well worth the read, and the re-read!

2 thoughts on “Chaos for Breakfast by Robert A. Hall

  1. Thanks for your review of my book, “Chaos for Breakfast.” Always nice to see, though I receive no royalties, as they go to charity.

    One correction: I was a state senator in Massachusetts, not, alas! a US Senator.

    ~Bob Hall