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- Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: Pasta dura
I think this is a sincere book with a few good observations that might be quite helpful to you and your organization. IF you already have your actual business “T”s crossed and your “I”s properly dotted. If you are floundering for basic business reasons (your products aren’t selling, your value proposition is broken, you are being killed by new regulations and taxes, or your competition is eating your lunch), well, you have some very important things to deal with first. These ideas MIGHT be a part of that process, but I think of these more as refinements than as basic foundational business principles.
This is an attractive little book with lots of color, cute drawings, not too many pages (just over a 100 pages with the blank red pages, the drawings, and end matter counting as pages), nice thick paper, and a few clear and easy to grasp ideas. Whether you can implement them easily depends a lot on your corporate culture and structure, which is really the point the author is making. Your culture, structure, and the way humans tend to operate within such organizational caves can not only get in the way of your business goals and success, but kill it outright.
The book has five short chapters or essays on different subjects. I guess they flow out of one talk she gave at TED, but I don’t think they really connect and build into an overall theme, except as ideas to help you rethink how you do what you do every day (not WHAT you do, or why you do it, but how you do some things on the margins). One of my pet peeves with these kinds of books is that they tend to belittle the numbers side of business because a lot of people who suppose themselves to be brilliant are lazy when it comes to thinking analytically and far too many people today are poor at understanding math. Oh, they can work spreadsheets and programs that do numerical analysis and crunch numbers. But getting to the meaning of what the numbers being crunched represent and what the crunched product means too often elude them. This book, in my view, panders too much to such people. She offers no financial evidence for her theories. Few dates of when the anecdotes occurred, no longitudinal follow up to see if the successes she cites continued, and no evidence of them being replicated in other organizations. Scientifically, this is a problem. Emotionally, it is flattering because we are such special and unique little snowflakes. But in the end, we all have bills to pay; don’t we? How is that done without financial success and, heaven forfend, numbers?
I think the first chapter on “Creative Conflict” is quite strong. I like her take on diversity, but not just racial and sex diversity, culture, background, interests, life goals, and more. Her point that too many of us think we are look through windows out into the world when in fact we are staring into mirrors is, I think, quite right. We tend to feel most comfortable being around what we find similar to what we already know. And success is often about stretching ourselves into discomfort and the unknown. Of embracing differences in approach, different views, and looking for the uncomfortable questions that will make us dig deeper to make our solution even better and of more value.
The second chapter on “Social Capital” offers her approach to team cohesion, dynamics, and cooperation. Some of us have been very fortunate to be part of a very special team when everything clicked and we were all able to combine our talents, differences, similarities, and focus on a goal and make it happen even beyond our wildest expectations. That is fun. That is a life changing experience. Heffernan offers some things you can look for to help promote that. But I think she goes overboard in diminishing the role of the singular genius. Beethoven didn’t write his music by committee. Hemingway and Dickens wrote alone. Nevertheless I think this essay is valuable. Her approach to “power listening” is something that can benefit anyone.
But she doesn’t deal with the problem that teams don’t last forever. People transition in and out and people are not always fungible or easily replaceable. Not every mix of talents creates the same net sum of the parts. Maybe it gets even better. But we regard the 1927 Yankees as something special for a reason. And those of us from Detroit know how wonderful the Tiger teams of 1968 and 1984 were. It isn’t easy to produce greatness by recipe alone or on command.
Chapter three argues that the notion of working endless hours and juggling lots of things simultaneously is counterproductive. It gets less done, lowers productivity, and lowers the quality of the work produced. Instead, limit work hours to those where you can work intensely and creatively on a single project, then rest and recharge. Take time to care for yourself and there will be a higher quality of you to do better quality and more creative work.
Chapter four argues that the very structure of your organization might get in the way of your accomplishing your goals and developing value. She cites stories of how long standing problems in large organizations found solutions once managers circulated the problems throughout the entire organization and let fresh eyes and other resources come to bear on the issue. Sometimes managers don’t solve the problem, but are loathe to give up their ownership of it. They want to hold onto it, even though it remains something they need to solve, but haven’t. I do think her intention is good when she talks about a small team of creative types belonging to the whole company and being without a boundary. But a small team can only do so much. It has to triage and pick and choose. Not everything can be solved this way. And she speaks glowingly of not being constrained by resource limitations. Well, everything is constrained at some point. And, as I noted earlier, no one can pay their own bills if the company doesn’t pay its bills. So, beware the fantasy of otherworldly economics.
The last chapter is about an idea that has gotten traction in a variety of places over the years. We have seen the notions of inverted pyramids and servant leaders and leaderless teams before. She pushed the idea that higher expectations, not just difficult goals, but outright enthusiasm for the team and its members being able to do more is key to them being able to do more. And that having low expectations tends to set low accomplishment in stone. She calls then the Pygmalion and the Galatea effects. Nothing can guarantee low achievement better than assuring people that you expect little from them because they don’t have the talent to succeed. She cites companies like Microsoft that have dumped forced ranking and the way they manage winning without having to force other people into losing roles.
I think this is fine as far as it goes. But at the start of the season, every baseball and football team convinces itself it can win the championship. By the end of the season, one team does. The others may have “done more” by some measures. But they still didn’t achieve their major objective. What does that mean? You will have to decide.
Again, I think this is a book to prod your thinking and provide you with a few ideas to consider. I think they might help you in designing, redesigning, and managing your organization. It is sure fire recipe book? No. It is a panacea? Heck no. But it is a good and provocative read. Even if it engages in a lot more arm waving than analysis.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI