A book about good management told using the metaphor of a meal


Managing a business is difficult and complex. But that’s no reason for always addressing the matter with a boring, theoretical approach. Vivacity and practice – not play (the topic is, of course, serious) – are needed, with attention to the human side of aspects and events. After all, that’s what good manufacturing culture is about.

Which is why reading “Dessert. Management, dintorni e contorni. Menu per lavorare bene e vivere meglio” [Dessert. Management, servings and sides. A menu for better work and better living] co-authored by Gianfranco Dentella and Ezio Paolo Reggia (both experienced managers, the first in the finance sector and the second in insurance), is a necessary and profitable experience – primarily for the cultural benefit but also for the operational input.

The book’s title can be misleading. Which is why the two authors explain right from the start that the product of their literary efforts “is not a recipe for food”, but an attempt to use food as a multifaceted metaphor to offer explanations and a new perspective for a topic as complex as business management.

“Dessert” is, to all intents, a book about management written from an unusual angle. It’s not just the title and the way the topics are arranged; the authors also address each topic with a novel style: an anthology of short stories, a collection of parables, sometimes outright jokes. The objective is to provide advice and observations about life, work and company relations, following the traditional format used when preparing a meal. The text is arranged into fifteen servings, for a lunch with twenty-four “flavours”, a full menu to be taken metaphorically. The roughly 230 pages do a good job of covering everything that life as a manager (and simply life itself) has to offer: from betrayal to hearsay, from ingratitude to know-how, from prejudice to not taking things for granted, and much more beyond.

Seemingly a book to be read for enjoyment, “Dessert” should in fact be read seriously and with great care.

Among the many quotes, one stands out and, in some sense, holds it all together: “It is necessary to restart the journey, always” (José de Sousa Saramago).


Dessert. Management, dintorni e contorni. Menu per lavorare bene e vivere meglio

Gianfranco Dentella, Ezio Paolo Reggia

Guerini e Associati, 2019