Here is an especially clever as well as valuable article that Andrew Sobel posted at his website. To read the complete article, check out other resources, and sign up for his free monthly newsletter, please click here.
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A client of mine, a Fortune-100 company, had a longstanding relationship with IBM for the provision of a variety of technology services. They told me that IBM’s then-CEO Sam Palmisano decided to visit my client’s CEO.
A week ahead of the visit, my client’s relationship manager for IBM called his counterpart to discuss the upcoming CEO summit between their companies. Apparently he did not get a return phone call during that week! The story goes that when Palmisano met with their CEO, he opened by saying “My people tell me we have an ‘A’ relationship with your organization.” My client’s CEO responded, “Well, my team tells me your relationship with us is a ‘C.’”
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for the ensuing conversation!
The story ends well—they don’t always—and apparently this was a wakeup call for the IBM team to dramatically improve the relationship. Within a year, my client tells me, the relationship was indeed an “A,” and today they view IBM as a key trusted partner in operating their business.
IBM is a great company that has been quite innovative in the way it builds long-term client relationships. But as this story illustrates, even well-managed firms can dramatically misread the health of a key client relationship!
In the medical profession, there is continual debate about the value of the annual health “checkup.” Most doctors, however, firmly believe that certain types of regular screening tests are essential and help save lives. As the IBM anecdote illustrates, similar “screenings” are necessary when managing client relationships.
In fact, you should absolutely review the “health” of your cient relationships on a regular basis. Here’s why. Most clients simply vote with their feet. They don’t tell you they are unhappy—they simply start to give their business to your competitors. The successful firms I work with all have some type of process in place to determine the health and strength of their most important client relationships. Often, they have multiple layers of feedback that they seek. These sometimes include periodic but structured conversations held by the relationship manager, senior executive visits, independent surveys, and client forums (virtual and in-person).
Here [is the first of] ten questions the Relationship Doctor would ask about each of your clients:
1. Do you have access?
If there were such a figure as a “client relationship doctor,” Lloyds Banking Group Chairman Sir Winfried Bischoff would be the archetype. The former Schroder’s CEO and Citigroup Chairman is a renowned trusted advisor who has calmly and wisely guided hundreds of CEOs through bet-the-company transactions and deals. Last year I asked Sir Win, “How do you know when a relationship is not going well?” His first response was, “If it’s taking a very long time to set up a meeting, that’s usually a bad sign!”
Can you actually get in to see important executives in your client’s organization? Some leaders are notoriously busy, and it does take time to get on their schedule. But if you don’t have access, you may not be considered relevant! PS: If you think you have a good relationship, but the client says “There’s nothing going on, it doesn’t make sense to meet,” that’s still a bad sign. It means they don’t really value your ongoing insight and perspective.
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Andrew Sobel (www.andrewsobel.com) helps companies and individuals build clients for life. He is the most widely published author in the world on the topic of business relationships, and his bestselling books include Power Questions, All for One, Making Rain, and Clients for Life. All for One was recently voted one of the top 10 sales and marketing books of the decade by a major marketing publication. His clients include many of the world’s leading companies such as Citigroup, Hess, Cognizant, Ernst & Young, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, Experian, Lloyds Banking Group, and many others. Andrew’s articles and work have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, USA Today, strategy+business, and the Harvard Business Review. He spent 15 years at Gemini Consulting where he was a Senior Vice President and country Chief Executive Officer, and for the last 15 years he has led his own consulting firm, Andrew Sobel Advisors. Andrew has been married for 30 years and has three children. He can be reached at www.andrewsobel.com.
To read my reviews of two of Andrew’s books, All for One and Power Questions, please click here.
How and Why The Wealth of Nations is “one of the most important and influential books ever written.”
The title of this review is from the Foreword to this volume, written by Eamonn Butler (Director of the Adam Smith Institute), and continues as follows: The Wealth of Nations “transformed how we think about the nature of economic life, turning it from an ancient to a recognizably modern form.” Razeen Sally is Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics and Co-Director of European Centre for Political Economy (ECIPE). In the Preface, he observes, “The governing principles of the Smithian economic system is ‘natural liberty’ (or non-intervention), which allows ‘every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice.’ And as Smith goes on to say, ‘All systems of preference or restraint, therefore, being thus completely taken away, the obvious and simple system natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord.’”
Those who have read one or more of the volumes that comprise Tom Butler-Bowdon’s 50 Classics series already know that he possesses superior reasoning and writing skills as well as a relentless curiosity when conducting research on history’s greatest thinkers and their major works. For these and other reasons, I cannot think of another person better qualified to provide the introductions to the volumes that comprise a new series, Capstone Classics.
Unlike so many others, he provides more, much more than a flimsy “briefing” to the given work. In his 32-page Introduction to this edition of The Wealth of Nations, Butler-Bowdon discusses subjects and issues such as these in order to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Smith’s insights:
o Adam Smith and the world in which he lived
o The Wealth of Nations (TWON): Its origins and influences
o The major political and economic issues that it addresses
o The meaning and significance of two terms, “wealth” and “nations,” in the book’s title
o Contemporary works with which it was compared and contrasted
o Adam Smith’s views on social relations
o How a strong market “works”
o Why specialization is “the key to prosperity”
o Smith’s views on enlightened self-interest as opposed to society’s best interests
o The crucial role of capital
o How and why Smith differentiates (in TWON) a nation’s productivity and its system of currency
o The respective roles of price and demand in a market economy
o TWON‘s “agrarian bias”
o Smith’s views on government’s proper role
o Correlations between personal wealth and natural wealth
o Smith’s views on human rights
There are dozens of others, of course, but hopefully these will provide at least some indication of the scope of Butler-Bowdon’s coverage in the 32-page Introduction. As indicated earlier, is to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Adam Smith’s insights. He does so brilliantly and also in each of the other volumes in the Capstone Classics series that have been published thus far.
Here is a brief excerpt from a feature article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, and published in the Atlantic magazine. To read the complete article, watch a video during which Anne-Marie Slaughter talks with Hanna Rosin about the struggles of working mothers, sign up for free email alerts, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
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It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.
EIGHTEEN MONTHS INTO my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. I sipped champagne, greeted foreign dignitaries, and mingled. But I could not stop thinking about my 14-year-old son, who had started eighth grade three weeks earlier and was already resuming what had become his pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes, failing math, and tuning out any adult who tried to reach him. Over the summer, we had barely spoken to each other—or, more accurately, he had barely spoken to me. And the previous spring I had received several urgent phone calls—invariably on the day of an important meeting—that required me to take the first train from Washington, D.C., where I worked, back to Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived. My husband, who has always done everything possible to support my career, took care of him and his 12-year-old brother during the week; outside of those midweek emergencies, I came home only on weekends.
As the evening wore on, I ran into a colleague who held a senior position in the White House. She has two sons exactly my sons’ ages, but she had chosen to move them from California to D.C. when she got her job, which meant her husband commuted back to California regularly. I told her how difficult I was finding it to be away from my son when he clearly needed me. Then I said, “When this is over, I’m going to write an op-ed titled ‘Women Can’t Have It All.’”
She was horrified. “You can’t write that,” she said. “You, of all people.” What she meant was that such a statement, coming from a high-profile career woman—a role model—would be a terrible signal to younger generations of women. By the end of the evening, she had talked me out of it, but for the remainder of my stint in Washington, I was increasingly aware that the feminist beliefs on which I had built my entire career were shifting under my feet. I had always assumed that if I could get a foreign-policy job in the State Department or the White House while my party was in power, I would stay the course as long as I had the opportunity to do work I loved. But in January 2011, when my two-year public-service leave from Princeton University was up, I hurried home as fast as I could.
A rude epiphany hit me soon after I got there. When people asked why I had left government, I explained that I’d come home not only because of Princeton’s rules (after two years of leave, you lose your tenure), but also because of my desire to be with my family and my conclusion that juggling high-level government work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible. I have not exactly left the ranks of full-time career women: I teach a full course load; write regular print and online columns on foreign policy; give 40 to 50 speeches a year; appear regularly on TV and radio; and am working on a new academic book. But I routinely got reactions from other women my age or older that ranged from disappointed (“It’s such a pity that you had to leave Washington”) to condescending (“I wouldn’t generalize from your experience. I’ve never had to compromise, and my kids turned out great”).
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I still strongly believe that women can “have it all” (and that men can too). I believe that we can “have it all at the same time.” But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. My experiences over the past three years have forced me to confront a number of uncomfortable facts that need to be widely acknowledged—and quickly changed.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Anne-Marie Slaughter is the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She was previously the director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department and dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
How and why business leaders who develop a global mindset can help their companies to transcend cultural barriers
Companies cannot become global leaders unless and until their executives “think, act, and lead [them effectively] in a turbulent, transformed world.” This requires a global mindset. Ángel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh provide in this book an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that will help executives in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature) to develop that mindset.
More specifically, leaders who “act as bridge builders, connectors of global resources and talent, dedicated to finding new ways to create value…They have experienced the difficulties of crossing lines in a world that is becoming more tightly connected yet no flatter, where the nuances and differences across cultures are becoming, if anything, more visible and critical. They have found ways to navigate uneven terrain, close gaps, and make a difference for people around the world.” Thus have Cabrera and Unruh identified only a few of many dimensions of what a global mindset must accommodate.
These are among the several dozen passages that caught my eye:
o How global leaders connect, create, and contribute (Pages 23-27)
o Why new global business requires a global mindset (32-39)
o The major benefits of a global mindset for a business (82-86)
o Why global citizenship is an uncommon path to common solutions (121-123)
o How to build prosperity for everyone involved in the given enterprise (140-147)
o How and why leadership makes a difference (169-174)
o The obligations and privileges of “global citizenship” (180)
To their credit, Cabrera and Unruh immediately establish and then sustain a direct and personal rapport with their reader. Thus, when approaching the conclusion of their book, they pose a question and then respond to it: “What can you do to ensure you continue to stretch your global mindset, that your ability to find and create new value remains nimble, and that you continue to value the contributions and protect the interests of those around you? The first step is to recognize that your learning never ends…To strengthen your global entrepreneurship, you need to put yourself in positions that allow you to apply your global mindset to create value…And to grow as a global citizen, you must constantly renew your commitment to making a difference by surrounding yourself with individuals who can support and strengthen your resolve.”
No brief commentary such as this can do full justice to the scope and depth of material that Ángel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh provide in this book. However, for leaders in organizations that are or aspire to become global leaders, I think this is a “must read.” I also highly recommend it to leaders in other organizations that seek to strengthen their relationships with global leaders.
Here is an article written by Dave Logan for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.
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(MoneyWatch) I’m a time management nut, and so I am surprised that the most important aspect of personal productivity is rarely discussed. It is to do creative work when you’re naturally creative, and do productive tasks when you’re naturally in “get it done” mode.
Every person I’ve ever met, taught, or learned from, is more creative at some point in the day than others, so much so that they are a creative genius at some times. The same person is a productivity machine at other times in the day (or, a “productivity genius”). The key is to know what your natural daily rhythm is.
First, some definitions. Creative tasks are those that require “invention” — which the Greeks understood as a combination of originality and discovering what’s going on. Writing poetry is creative. So is writing a proposal. And getting ready for a meeting, when you’re getting your facts in order and thinking about how to present them and respond to questions. Answering a tough email is creative, as is offering critiques on a marketing strategy, or preparing a bid.
A productive task is something you try to dispense quickly, where the key is efficiency. Answering routine emails, returning calls, getting through the stuff on your desk are productivity tasks.
So, how do you sync up when you do each? Here’s how:
[Note: Here is the first of three suggestions.]
1. Keep a “genius log” for three days to map your daily cycle. During the 72 hours, when you’re at work, set an alarm every 1-2 hours. When it goes off, record these quick data points:
• The exact time of day.
• The task you’re working on.
• Where it is on the creativity-productive continuum, with “100% C” meaning total creativity, “100% P” meaning that you’re doing your best to be a productivity machine.
• How effortless it is, on a one to 10 scale, with 10 being “completely effortless” and one being “personal hell.”
After making these notations, reset the alarm for a time between 60 and 120 minutes. Repeat until the end of the workday, and for the next two days.
To learn more on how to do the genius log, get some tips to not hang yourself up, and see a sample of my own log, go to my personal blog.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Dave Logan is a USC faculty member, management consultant, and the best-selling author of four books including Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance. He is also Senior Partner of CultureSync, a management consulting firm, which he co-founded in 1997.
To read his other articles, please click here.
“When You’ve Got Your Health You’ve Got Just About Everything” – Reflecting on the ACA (and T.R. Reid)
News Item: Supreme Court Lets Health Law Largely Stand
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday left standing the basic provisions of the health care overhaul, ruling that the government may use its taxation powers to push people to buy health insurance.
News item: Stockton, California, To File For Bankruptcy Protection
Stockton, California, said it will file for bankruptcy after talks with bondholders and labor unions failed, making the agricultural center the biggest U.S. city to seek court protection from creditors.
“Retirees are not going to be happy,” said Dale Ginter, who represented retired Vallejo workers in that city’s bankruptcy. “My prediction is that retiree health care is cut. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it cut to zero.”
The news hit this morning that the Supreme Court upheld the ACA act (frequently called “ObamaCare”). Regardless of your position on this, it might be good to take a look at the over all question: what about health care?
The city of Stockton, CA just decided to declare bankruptcy partly because of looming health care obligations of their retired employees. Other cities are in the pipeline for this problem, which will undoubtedly continue to spread.
In an increasingly out-sourced world, with people working at jobs that are not quite like the jobs of yesteryear, a growing percentage of Americans simply do not have/can not afford health care.
Of all the books I have read about the actual problem, “what can we do about health care?”, the best book I’ve read is The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T. R. Reid (New York: The Penguin Press. 2009). T. R. Reid is a respected and experienced journalist. He also has lived and worked as a journalist in many different foreign countries. He also has a bad shoulder. From the book:
“On the personal level, I was hoping to find some relief from my ailing right shoulder, which I bashed badly decades ago as a seaman, second, class, in the U.S. Navy. In 1972, a navy surgeon (literally) screwed the joint back together, and that repair job worked for a while. Over time, though, the stainless-steel screw in my clavicle loosened; my shoulder grew increasingly painful and hard to move. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, I could no longer swing a golf club, I could barely reach up to replace a lightbulb overhead of get the wineglasses from the top shelf. Yearning for surcease from sorrow, I took the bum shoulder to doctors and clinics in countires around the world.”
An international journalist, with a bum shoulder… This unique perspective certainly gives Mr. Reid a unique perspective from which to study this issue. Here are a number of key quotes from his book:
Government and academic studies report that more than 20,000 Americans die in the prime of life each year from medical problems that could be treated, because they can’t afford to see a doctor. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country. Hundreds of thousands of Americans go bankrupt every year because of medical bills. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country either.
Efforts to change the system tend to be derailed by arguments about “big government” or “free enterprise” or “socialism” — and the essential moral question gets lost in the shouting.
All the other developed countries on earth have made a different moral decision. Countries that are just as committed as we are to equal opportunity, individual liberty, and the free-market have concluded that everybody has a right to health care — and they provide it. One result is that most rich countries have better national health statistics — longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, better recovery rates for major diseases — than the United States does. Yet all the other rich countries spend far less on healthcare than the United States does.
The primary issue for any healthcare system is a moral one.
If we want to fix American healthcare, we first have to answer a basic question: should we guarantee medical treatment to everyone who needs it?
All the developed countries I looked at provide health coverage for every resident, old or young, rich or poor. This is the underlying moral principle of the health care system in every rich country – every one, that is, except the United States.
How many people go bankrupt because of medical bills? In Britain, zero. In France, zero. In Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland: zero. In the United States, according to a joint study by Harvard Law School and Harvard Medical School, the annual figure is around 700,000.
For all the money America spends on health care, our health outcomes are worse on many basic measures than those in countries that spend much less.
The United States is the only developed country that relies on profit-making health insurance companies to pay for essential and elective care…
All the other developed countries have decided that basic health insurance must be a nonprofit operation. In those countries, the insurance plans – sometimes run by government, sometimes private entities – exist only to pay people’s medical bills, not to provide dividends for investors… The U.S. private insurance industry has the highest administrative costs of any health care payer in the world.
And here is the simple summary of his solution:
• Problem: Too many people without health care.
• Solution: Health care for all.
The ACA is now the established law of the land. There will still be many political battles to come. But, for me, there is always the simple brilliance of the Geritol commercial that I remember from so many years ago (watch that old commercial here):
“We’ve got so much to be thankful for. We’ve got our health and when you’ve got your health you’ve got just about everything.”
The older I get, the more I realize just how true these words are. And health care is pretty connected to the whole idea of “you’ve got your health…”
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin
Max Mckeown presents his material within a three-part framework that focuses on these strategic objectives: How to recognize the need to adapt? (Chapters 1-6), How to understand necessary adaptation? (Chapters 12-17), and How to adapt as necessary? (Chapters 12-17). As Abraham Maslow suggests with his “Hierarchy of Needs” (usually portrayed in the form of a pyramid), man must first survive before giving thought to security; and only when secure can man consider “self-actualization” (i.e. personal fulfillment). Mckeown’s primary objective in this book is to help his reader to understand when, how, and why to adapt “faster and smarter than the [given] situation changes.” He accepts Darwin’s concept of natural selection but asserts, “Adapt or die is not the only choice. In the future, you can try to maintain what you already have, or you can attempt to transcend the constraints of your situation. We’re part of a long chain of adaptive moves. Each move has changed the circumstances of our ancestors, until we arrived.” How to learn how to adapt?
In response to that question, Mckeown provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel. Here are a few of the dozens of passages in his narrative that caught my eye:
o Why all failure is failure to adapt
o How to embrace “unacceptable wisdom”
o Why stability is a “dangerous illusion”
o Why learning fast is better than failing fast
o How to think better together
o Why hierarchy is “fossil fuel”
o How to “get your ambition on”
Mckeown is well-aware of the importance of survival to countless individuals as well as to countless organizations and even countries throughout the world. However, his hope — one that I share — is that those who read this book will aspire to accomplishing more, much more than survival.
The key, in my opinion, is first developing and then applying a mindset that recognizes the need for adaptation, understands what adaptation requires, and possesses imagination and (yes) courage sufficient to separate thinking repetition — perpetuating what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom” – from adaptive iteration. Change may be inevitable but progress is not. The need to adapt is inevitable but being able to do that effectively is not.
I introduced this brief commentary with a statement by Charles Darwin and now conclude it with another: “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Suzanne Lucas for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.
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(Money Watch) COMMENTARY Everyone has horror stories about bad bosses. Then when we become the boss, we tend to think that we’re only doing what is necessary and, by the way, that employees cause all the problems.
Thing is, part of a manager’s job is to handle bad employees; an employee shouldn’t have to handle a bad boss. So how do you know if you are one? Here are [two of] five signs that you’re failing in your job as a manager.
1. Your employees lie to you. This may sound like a bad employee problem, but why do they need to lie to you? Do you make unreasonable demands? Punish people excessively for mistakes? Interrogate them over why they need time off? These things all create a culture where your employees feel the only way they can get what they need is to lie. A culture of openness and understanding makes for employees who will speak honestly with you.
2. No other managers want to poach your employees. A good manager develops good employees. Other managers want good employees. If you are developing good employees, your peers will express interest in working with them. If you spend more time trying to get rid of bad employees than trying to keep your good ones, the problem may be with you.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate Human Resources. She’s hired, fired, and analyzed the numbers for several major companies. She founded the Carnival of HR, a bi-weekly gathering of HR blogs, and her writings have been used in HR certification and management training courses across the country.
To read her other articles, please click here.
How and why to avoid or break free from a cycle that grows (unintentionally) vicious
Ignore the title of this book. It serves only the publisher’s marketing purposes. Focus instead on the subtitle: “How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way You Work.” As is also true of most other business books, the subtitle is informative. It reveals why Leslie Perlow wrote the book. Clearly, she agrees with Charles Duhigg’s observation in his book, The Power of Habit: “We now know why habits emerge, how they change, and the science behind their mechanics. We know how to break them into parts and rebuild them to our specifications. We know how to make people eat less, exercise more, work more efficiently, and live healthier lives. Transforming a habit isn’t necessarily easy or quick. It isn’t always simple. But it is possible. And now we know why.”
In Perlow’s book, the smartphone is not the problem nor is how the smartphone is used. Its use (actually abuse) is a symptom of the root problem: A mindset that ignores or under-appreciates the nature and extent of what can be controlled in terms of, for example, setting priorities, allocating resources, managing time, and renewing energy. Duhigg asserts – and I agree — that we must create a better habit for changing habits just as Clay Christensen urges us to think more innovatively about innovation and Jon Katzenberg urges us to change how we think about change.
What Perlow offers in this book is a non-nonsense, practical, results-driven process by which to turn off electronically, while improving the work that is done. She calls the process PTO” because – at the core, when people work together to create `predictable time off’ [PTO], people, teams, and ultimately the organization all stand to benefit as do, I presume to add, an organization’s past, current, and prospective customers. Also, establishing and then sustaining a PTO culture will make the organization significantly more attractive to the people it hopes to obtain in what is indeed a “war for talent.”
The specifics of the PTO process are best revealed in context, within the narrative, with a real-world frame-of-reference that Perlow so carefully establishes for them. However, I do want to cite a few of the dozens of passages that caught my eye:
o “The [Initial] Transformation” (Pages 31-33)
o “Two Teams: A Study in Contrasts (54-58)
o “The Cycle of Transparency” (67-68)
o “The Benefits of Openness” (75-77)
o “Eliminating Bad Intensity” (95-96)
o “The Perils of Resistant Leaders” (117120)
o “Getting Started: Guidelines for Team Members” (156-158)
o “Diffusing Throughout our Organization (177-178)
o “Going Forward with Facilitation” and “Practices of effective Facilitation” (194-196)
o “Toward a More Humane Workplace” (204-205)
No brief commentary such as this could possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of the information, insights, and wisdom that Leslie Perlow shares in this volume. That said, I hasten to suggest that it would be a fool’s errand for a reader to attempt to apply everything learned from the material provided. My suggestion is to re-read the book slowly and carefully (especially Chapters 10-12, Part IV), underlining the key passages you may have missed the first time, then draw up a list of 2-5 strategic objectives (no fewer than three, no more than five) that the PTO process can help your organization to achieve. Next, review the material in the book that is most relevant to what specifically must be done to achieve the objectives. Game on!