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Clever: Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People Hardcover – August 25, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

They tend to obsess over work projects, don't like to be told what to do and need lots of space. They are video-game designer Will Wright, iMac creator Jonathan Ive and Louis Vuitton brand rejuvenator Marc Jacobs. They are the clevers, the highly talented individuals with the potential to create disproportionate amounts of value from the resources that the organization makes available to them. Goffee and Jones, professors at the London School of Business, present a smart and surprisingly entertaining manual on identifying and handling these employees for optimum benefit, complete with a dos and don'ts chart. They advocate building a corporate culture catering to these individuals—following the lead of Cisco Systems, Nestlé and Google—and argue that the stagnant economy demands creative approaches to inspire productivity: the particular skills of exceptionally gifted workers can be harnessed by entire businesses, creating clever teams and corporations. The book is balanced in its treatment and also explores the flip side of cleverness, making the important caveat: the clever economy is not a utopian capitalist idyll, in its illustration of how unchecked and glamorized cleverness contributed to Wall Street's implosion. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Some big fibs have endured longer than any others. "The cheque's in the post," for example. Or: "No, darling, you look lovely in that." And finally: "Our people are our biggest asset."
Here is a terrific new book that explodes the last item in that unholy trinity. The truth is that not every employee is such a huge asset, or "talent", to use the fashionable term. Only some of your people are your biggest asset. The point is to spot them, nurture them - and know when to leave them well alone… …These are the people who, in your business, are going to make the difference between just getting by and excelling. They have vast potential. Handle with care. - The Financial Times, September 3, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422122964
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422122969
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #693,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rob Goffee is Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, where he teaches in the world-renowned Senior Executive Programme.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Kanigan VINE VOICE on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The slim book (200 pages) is set in three sections:

Part I: Leader and Led (Understanding your best talent & recognizing their importance to your company; "Clever" people frequently add disproportionate value to the firm)

Part II: Clever Teams; (Focusing on characteristics of clever teams, their environments and how they function - pitfalls and issues when assembling)

Part III: Clever Organizations (How firms can maximize potential/productivity of Clevers)

My recap:

1) Authors serve up an engaging writing style with a good mix of interviews, analysis and case studies

2) First 2-3 chapters set up the book and pack the most punch. The later chapters develop the first two.

3) Seasoned managers may find a number of common sense passages and business clichés (saying thank you for a job well done; Clevers need recognition; dysfunctional teams cause problems; 3 hour meetings might be too long). Furthermore, there is not much new in this book, but the authors lay out the do's and don'ts, the pro's and con's and the problems and opportunities - that raise levels of awareness for all managers and may connect a few dots that weren't connected before.

4) Some solid analysis and discussion around leading Clevers (leading clever people requires a degree of humility; traditional Command and control approach doesn't work; explanation and persuasion and straight talk are critical (rather than spin and training sessions)

5) Publishers earned their keep with a very pro-looking cover and packaging (over-the-top with the promises?) which would park well on your book shelf - alluring to those looking for a catchy title at an airport book stand.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
According to Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, clever people "are the most valuable people the organization has - more valuable than their leaders (more valuable, perhaps, than even the CEO). Or, at least, they have the potential to be more valuable than anyone else." Warren Bennis once suggested that managing people resembles herding cats. Goffee and Jones suggest that managing clever people resembles herding lions and tigers...and perhaps (extending the metaphor to less-experienced but nonetheless high-potential workers) some jaguars, cougars, leopards, and cheetahs as well. Most books and articles I have read about managing talented people suggest that the challenge is to increase their value to the organization. "This book turns that challenge on its head. Clever is concerned with making the organization more valuable to clever people." They go on to suggest that those who manage them are required to recognize and accommodate two realities: "First, there needs to be an appreciation that clever people have a symbiotic relationship with their organizations. They need the sociability, infrastructure, credibility, resources and scale offered by an organization, as much as the organization needs their value-generating power. Second, unleashing the potential of clever people demands a new style of leadership. Leaders can no longer be the sole driving force for progress. They are not the one who leads the charge up the mountain. Rather, they must identify the clever people with the potential to reach the summit, connect with others, and help them get there."

The observations, suggestions, recommendations, and caveats that Goffee and Jones provide within their lively and eloquent narrative are all based on rigorous and extensive research.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Larry Underwood on August 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In a world filled with not-so-clever people, Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones have provided us with a book geared towards helping us understand what makes clever people tick; and most importantly, how to get the most out of those clever people, by encouraging them & challenging them to reach greater levels of...being clever.

Typically, most organizations are run by somewhat humorless corporate bureaucracies who think they're clever, but usually are far from it. As a result, the truly clever people in those organizations are usually not noticed or under-appreciated; some are even labeled as malcontents & are driven away by narrow minded supervisors.

Such organizations usually experience less than stellar earnings; some even require bailout money to stay afloat. Naturally, most of the clever people have already jumped ship by that time; and so it goes.

The successful organizations embrace the concept that knowledge is actually a good thing to possess and to nurture; naturally, they go out of their way to engage the cleverest people in the process known as "work".

It's really a very simple concept; common sense tell us that. This wonderful book reinforces that concept with very practical strategies which even a CEO should be able to grasp; if they don't let their egos get in the way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Clever employees dream up intriguing new products and services, and develop revolutionary processes that catapult their organizations over their competitors. As such, they are crucial to a company's success. However, as consultants Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones explain, leading them can be a huge challenge. Manage them too much, and they will leave and take their brilliant ideas to your competitors. Manage them too little, and they may waste precious corporate resources on impractical activities that do not contribute to your bottom line. In this thoughtful, illuminating book, Goffee and Jones describe how to lead them so they will be happy and so your company will benefit. The authors emphasize that cleverness is not everything society makes it out to be, but that, properly managed, clevers can take your organization to the heights, so you want to nurture them. getAbstract finds that this book shows you how, in the cleverest possible way.
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