AAMA : Blogs : Book Review: The Three Legged Table


The Three Legged Table

Why Every Employee Matters

Author: Brian James, MBA

ISBN: 1479156612

Publisher: CreateSpace, Independent Publishing Platform, North Charleston, South Carolina

Review: Major Jason Finley, MS, Medical Operations Officer, KYARNG

My grandfather was a woodworker.  He would build tables and chairs after he retired to pass the time.  He once built what he called a ‘golf table’.  It had what appeared to be two human legs in tacky golf pants complete with golf shoes, and the bottom part of a golf club.  What I remember about the table is not that it was, let’s face it, eclectic, if not just weird; what I remember is, that it was precariously unstable.  It was a three legged table.  You had to set your food or drink on the table in a way that the weight did not force too much pressure to any one leg.  If you did, the table would fall over, and so would your lunch or dinner.

The Three Legged Table, Why Every Employee Matters, by Brian James MBA is an illustrative symbol of an idea.  It is the idea that any organization must have symmetry to have synergy.  You must have a measured approach to balance, or just like your dinner on a golf table, organizational effort slides off into the abyss.

The books starts with an informative preface that sets the stage.  I am always fond of books that weave in prudent quotes.  I am a bottom line up front (BLUF) kind of guy, and apparently Brian James is as well.  The first line is “According to Patricia Fripp, ‘Your business is a good as your worst employee’.”  Wow.  That is a good BLUF, and a good way to set the stage.  The premise of this book is that healthcare customer service can be compared to a ‘three-legged table.”  “The table-top represents the customers, or patients, being served.  The floor, upon with the table sits, represents the physical facilities of the organization.  In between are three supports that represent separate yet vital players: the administration, the physicians, and the support staff.”

Frankly, as this book is only fifty-seven pages, I am not sure when I have read another book of so few pages that has both the multitude of good quotes, author and otherwise; not to mention the amount of sources, as Mr. James has sixty-one citations.  That is an achievement: more sources than pages.  I also like the format of sources as footnotes at the bottom of each page.   

Brian James goes on to discuss the following topics as chapters: Roles and Responsibilities; The Roles of Middle Managers in the Work Environment; Corporate Culture and Organizational Performance; Customer Service and Satisfaction; the Need for Diversity in the Workplace; Why Organizations Need Leaders; The Need to Build Leaders; The Importance of Mentors; and finally my favorite, the Ten Commandments of the Workplace.

When I read a book, whatever book it might be, I tend to use the following system: If there is something I like, or feel like is significant in that I want to easily find it in the future for reference or to show it to someone else, I ‘dog-ear’ it.  That is, I bend the corner of the top of the page inward so I can easily find it later.  As I am reviewing my notes, I find that there are ten dog eared pages in my copy of this book.  Not bad.

For the sake of time and space, I will only share a couple of these superlatives as a small illustration of what this book has to offer.  First, of course, is the idea that each leg is equally important and must therefore shares the exact same burden to support the table top.  That is brilliant.  Then, in chapter three, The Roles of Middle Managers in the Workplace, there is the startling quote from an article by Leigh Rivenbark, “90 percent of employees leave companies because of their manager and that 90 percent of managers think the employee leaves because of salary issues.”  Again.  Wow.  What can you say? 

In the last chapter, The Ten Commandments of the Work Environment, Brian James takes a bold approach to produce a sort of business behavior manifesto.  It could be considered to be a baseline for workplace performance through a further defined parameter of culture. This book ends when Brian James MBA has probably the best line I have ever read in any business book.  It is also one of the best lines I have ever read in any book.  “If you want to be a better leader, be a better person.”  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone thought about that? 

I have every confidence you will find that this read was worth your time.  This book is a recommendation for anyone, in any organization.


James, Brian (2013). The Three Legged Table, Why Every Employee Matters. CreateSpace, Independent Publishing Platform, North Charleston, SC.