Carnegie Mellon University

Robert Kelley

September 21, 2021

Best-Selling Author, CMU Professor Releases New Book, The Critical Path Manifesto

Robert Kelley Shows How Employees Can Align With the Critical Path to Obtain Success

(Pittsburgh, PA) – Robert Kelley, Ph.D., Distinguished Service Professor of Management at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and best-selling author of How to Be a Star at Work, announced the release of his latest book, The Critical Path Manifesto. As a public service, "The Critical Path Manifesto" is released on Kelley’s blog, free-of-charge in a serial format, with new chapters available each week, beginning today.

In his new book, Kelley outlines how employers can define their own critical path, encourage employees to align themselves with and add value to that path, and how employees can become star performers by dedicating themselves to the critical path.

“'The Critical Path Manifesto' reveals that great companies and great employees dedicate themselves to the critical path between their customers and their own company as the supplier,” said Kelley. “Every action taken in a company must be in reference to its impact on this path.”

Kelley further illustrates what connects a successful company to its customers and finds that the best companies obsessively focus on making that critical, connecting path shorter, faster, smarter, better, more effective, and more profitable so that customers make the company their supplier of choice. Likewise, the best employees, or star performers, get on the company’s critical path, focusing almost exclusively on the company’s economic success, adding value, and making themselves indispensable.

“COVID-19 drove home the central problem in most companies: many employees do not understand the company’s critical path, i.e., how the company connects with customers to make money,” said Kelley. “There are too many people doing too much of the not-quite-right things. 'The Critical Path Manifesto' examines and remedies this situation by laying out what the critical path is and how to get on it.”

Kelley’s previous research focused on “star performers,” or high-performing employees, examining how these workers do their jobs and discovering what separates stars from average performers. Kelley determined it is not just how star performers do their jobs that makes them shine but that the stars also distinguish themselves by what they work on.

For Kelley, this book is a new opportunity in book writing, as well as publishing. Kelley wrote "The Critical Path Manifesto" for readers who do not want long chapters that lay out a dense paragraph-by-paragraph argument. Instead, the book is composed of 62 bite-sized chapters with most between two and five pages long. Readers can enjoy "The Critical Path Manifesto" in installments, glean a good idea and use it that day. With each chapter, readers will learn a lesson with a few ideas as to how to implement the lesson.

“For far too long, employers and employees have been going to work, every day, working their way through their to-do lists with little purpose except for checking off the next item,” said Kelley. “My hope is that this book will encourage and clearly explain how employers and employees can stop treading water and get on their own critical path.”

About Robert Kelley, Ph.D.

Kelley is a Distinguished Service Professor at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University where he teaches courses on intellectual capital, star performers, followership/leadership, and customer-driven strategies. He also owns and manages a consulting firm. Dr. Kelley previously served as a senior management consultant with the Stanford Research Institute and Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Business School.

His #1 business best-seller, How to Be a Star at Work was honored as one of "The 100 Best Business Books of All Time" and the #1 career book by the New York Daily News. He coined the term Gold-Collar Worker in his book by that title. Inc. Magazine named the book in its "CEO Required Reading List." He pioneered the concept of "Followership" in his best-selling book The Power of Followership and his Harvard Business Review article "In Praise of Followers" (a top 25 best-selling reprint for HBR) which changed the prevailing view of leadership.