Everything Matters is the book for supervisors too busy to read a book.

Done correctly, supervision is an art. Like all forms of art, some people are better at supervision than others. Like art, supervision can be classified, studied, described, categorized and evaluated. In supervision, as in the arts, it is through study, practice and honest critiques that a person improves. 

Throughout history, the process through which people have learned the arts has evolved. In the days of apprenticeships and journeymen, people learned a trade by watching master craftsmen; at that time people learned to be supervisors from mentors (the relationship was one-on-one or small group). Today there is an ever-increasing reliance on academic study as the best, or at least the quickest, way to learn the skills of supervision. Supervision, when learned as part of an academic pursuit, allows students (in large groups) to learn from the experiences and research of others. Despite the increased reliance on formal education, most people still learn the practical aspects of supervision by observing others who are supervisors (alone).


Dr. Hollis Palmer


This book is designed to help people to become better supervisors by combining the three methods of learning the art of supervision – mentoring, experience and observation. Unlike theoretical text, this book is based on real world experiences. The book is full of examples and ideas that can be related to the readers’ own experiences. In fact, the reader will find himself mentally placing names from his own experiences in the examples in the text.

This book is a collection of ideas expressed as axioms. The axioms were developed by looking at the similarities among actual experiences. The decision to use axioms evolved, but was based on a belief that people remember important points best when they are reduced to short, meaningful expressions.

The book, Everything Matters, was designed to be used primarily by people who are or who aspire to be supervisors. The book may also be helpful for people who are experiencing difficulties with their own supervisor, since it may explain the reasons for some of his behaviors.

Research finds that we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what is discussed with others, 80% of what we experience personally, and 90% of what we teach to others. This book provides a framework to learn by observing supervisors using specific parameters. Thus by moving from just reading the book (10% retention) to experiencing through planned observations (80%) the book increases the percentages readers will remember. In the case of readers who are already supervisors, the book provides concrete ideas to reflect on with respect to their own ongoing supervision.

Reading this book can be beneficial (10% level); however it is recommended that the book be read and discussed with colleague(s). The axioms and ideas that comprise the text were developed with the intent of opening conversations and sparking debates. The resulting dialogs will help the reader internalize the ideas presented and raise the retention to the 70% level. When reading this book in a cohort setting, if each colleague takes the lead in discussing one axiom, it provides an opportunity to examine several work-related situations. This process allows the colleagues to learn from the successes and mistakes of others (80 – 90% level).

The book contains a plethora of “Break Ideas” identified by coffee cups. Each of these “Break Ideas” could have been discussed in much greater detail; however, the ideas were intentionally limited in order to provide peers with ideas to initiate discussions.

After colleagues have read the book, they may find themselves debating which axioms apply to a given circumstance at work. This is the best possible reaction; because it means that the peers are analyzing a problem and trying to classify their perceptions. Debates are to be expected and should be encouraged when examining some of the axioms. While a debate is occurring, keep in mind that the difference in opinion is usually in how a person approaches a problem. However, if after a lengthy discussion the peers do not agree, it may be time to try to develop a new axiom that covers the situation.

How-to books, such as this, are truly effective when a reader finds himself able to relate experiences in his own life to points in the book. In the case of Everything Matters, proof of the validity of a section is demonstrated whenever a reader finds himself putting names to ideas or thinking of examples from his own workplace. The book has served as an instructional tool when a reader finds himself quoting the axioms as new situations arise in his organization. A reader has truly grasped and accepted the concept of Everything Matters when he finds himself creating his own axioms.

Aspiring supervisors should practice by taking situations that are developing at work and matching the issue to one or more of the axioms. As the situation continues to progress, the aspiring supervisor may decide that different axioms become more appropriate. These evolutions in appropriate axioms demonstrate that problems evolve and what may be a solution at one stage will be inadequate or inappropriate at a later point.

Reading the book with a peer is also recommended for people who are currently supervisors. The peer does not have to be someone from work, but should be someone at a comparable supervisory level. There is a potential problem for supervisors, who work for the same organization, when reading the book together. Since they may, at some point, be rivals for future advancements they may hold back and actually not be candid in the discussions.

In many ways, this book was designed to serve like a cookbook. Instead of recipes to make a special dish, this book has axioms to express important points in supervision.  Where a recipe provides a formula, the axioms in this book are meant to provide a guideline. Where a recipe is modified to the tastes of the chef, the axioms in this book will be modified to match the skills, setting and strengths of the supervisor. A chef will not even try some recipes, a supervisor may not be comfortable using some of the axioms. In the same way that most chefs are better with some parts of a meal than others (desserts over the main dish), supervisors are almost always better with one aspect of their position than in others (hiring over evaluation). As a chef challenges himself by trying a new recipe, a supervisor should challenge himself by trying a new axiom.

While this book was being written, the fundamental concept that “everything matters” spawned a dilemma in the use of personal pronouns. Clearly, women are significant fixtures in the supervisory workforce. There was long and difficult discussion about whether this should be recognized by the use of he/she and him/her every time a pronoun was used. The problem is that in a short manuscript this combination is readable but over the course of a book becomes annoying. The editorial staff – which was all female - and author discussed alternating pronouns but it was agreed that the use of one gender in some of the sections could result in appearing negative toward that gender. It was finally decided to use the conventional grammar default “he” or “him” with a full acknowledgement that women are absolutely equal players in supervision. It is also hoped that someone will come up with a gender neutral pronoun.

Remember:

If you are thinking of examples, the book has your attention!

If you are quoting an axiom, the book has made a difference!

If you have created your own axiom(s), then you have accepted the concepts in Everything Matters!