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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book on Work Relationships
For anyone who has ever wondered with an element of despair, "will my relationship with my boss/colleague/team member ever change, improve, become less fraught?!" - this is the book for you! This book is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to figure out how to make their most critical relationships at work actually work. What I love about it is that it shows very...
Published on June 24, 2008 by Annie Marks

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed: A manual on how to be an arbitrator - somewhat predictable and not as enlightening as I expected
The book from a practical standpoint makes sense. It focuses entirely on why conflicts arise and that is "its all about the relationship". So this book academically takes relationships, case studies of relationships, and breaks them down. It then uses simulations and communication techniques that I have seen used in other conflict resolution resources, such as: getting...
Published on July 31, 2010 by A. J. Weaver


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book on Work Relationships, June 24, 2008
By 
This review is from: Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength (Hardcover)
For anyone who has ever wondered with an element of despair, "will my relationship with my boss/colleague/team member ever change, improve, become less fraught?!" - this is the book for you! This book is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to figure out how to make their most critical relationships at work actually work. What I love about it is that it shows very clearly what can get in the way, and demonstrates how to shift typical ways of interacting. It is both practical and provides a framework for thinking.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Divide or Conquer, June 12, 2008
By 
Mark Fuller "Mark Fuller" (Cambridge, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength (Hardcover)
There's good theory in business and there's good practice in business. All too rarely can one find them both in the same book. Divide or Conquer proves that there is an exception to the rule. The author, one of the world's most experienced leadership practitioners, is also a genuinely creative thinker. In this book she tackles one of the great undiscussed realities of business: the central role of individual relationships in making things happen -- how to think about them deeply and how to manage them effectively. This book is the real deal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book, June 26, 2008
By 
Tajtoo (Winthrop, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength (Hardcover)
This smart, perceptive and original book is truly a "must read". Diana McLain Smith has written a book that explains how to make -- and remake -- relationships that thrive. This book redefines relationships as the key leverage point in organizations. Most books that offer this level of business sophistication are best appreciated by the traditional business audience. Divide or Conquer has crossover written all over it. Read it and see.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relationships Make or Break Companies, June 23, 2008
This review is from: Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength (Hardcover)
What a valuable book! With some fascinating vignettes (Apple's Scully and Jobs is one example), one understands how key relationships can make or break a company. Then you learn how to actually affect those relationships to ensure a company's success. This book will teach you how to improve all your important relationships. You'll learn to get curious about why someone might react a certain way, slow down the interactions, and find out why by having a productive conversation. The relationship transforms--people learn to care about and trust each other. They learn to find out what's going on instead of acting upon their own assumptions, which are usually wrong and often unconscious. I've already seen this start to happen in some of my own relationships with colleagues and family members, thanks to Smith's amazing insight, research and wisdom.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hands Down to a World-classed Practitioner!, July 9, 2008
This review is from: Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength (Hardcover)
When I first got this book on hand, there was only one review in the Amazon.com. And when I finished the book, and wanting to write my comment on it, it already goes to nine (reviews)! And this is only one month's time. And I must say the responds to this book haven't surprised me. It deserves a full-hall stand-up applause.

I have heard about Smith's name for quite a while, mainly from the field of organizational learning, which her mentors Chris Argyris and Donald Schön are both big names in that field. Since I am a big fans to Argyris and Schön's work, and since I live from quite a remoted place (another side of the globe), the easiest and the most accessable way to know about these masters' work is through their writings. However, Argyris and Schön's work is never easy to penetrate, frustrated but not deterred by the difficulty, I started to chase after their disciples' work, which includes Roger Schwarz, Peter Block and etc, all are very good works indeed. Nevertheless, no one previous work is quite like Smith's new book.

Though there were so many writings written on Argyrian intervention. The sad thing, however, is, there's a group of very VERY good consultants at Action Design (google it, please), which by now they are the one whom most live-up to Arygris and Schön's spirit, they rarely write. Maybe because the work is so embedded in actions, and maybe they knew clearly that it is never easy to convey the practice on paper.

And at one time, I stumbled on Diana's "A Reflection on Donald Schön" (after the death of Donald Schön), it was such a poetic piece, and indeed very beautifully written. And at that time, I was waiting for her work, really on her own, to get published. I didn't know when, I even didn't know if she had such plan, but that was really my wish, to see her work appears in this planet. And after reading Divide Or Conquer, I must say this was far better than I could imagine.

Interestingly, this book was one of my slowest reads. I read, I stopped, I contemplated (on how the scene happened), I hold my breath, and I sighed occasionally. Every word tells, is what I can say. If Action Science is such a tacit knowledge, such that practitioners know more than they can tell, then I think Smith has stretched the limit of `telling' to a new dimension. I guess, and could only guess, that her strategy to use a lot of narratives is a key to convey the message through the printed media, which usually would drained away by other ways of informing (like, writing in a third-person stance). Smith has put all the gems in those stories, and make it highly readable, and with funs and humors.

The whole book is nearly jargon-free, and Smith particularly picked Steve Jobs and John Sculley's story to set the stage, which she immediately showed her sophisticated ability to narrate, to analysis, and to pin to the heart that not many of us willing to and have enough practice to discuss: how key relationship turns bad, really bad.

Though the whole book is full of dialogues and stories, it still maintains a balance to give a very useful and actionable structure for serious practitioners to follow, and to try out the similar intervention. I vow to follow and to practice on this structure. And I must say, it's not quite like Argyris, or I would say, it's beyond Argyris.

I once read Bob Putnam's (of Action Design) commented on the possible breakdown of applying action science, and he said, when it deals with the `relationship structure,' it is not quite useful to continue to use that knowledge. But I was hanging out there, until I read Divide Or Conquer, I started to know what relationship structure really meant, and how to get out that kind of mug. It's definitely 30 years of practice in one shot. I bet this is not quite possible for one whom didn't gone through David Kantor, Donald Schön, Chris Argyris, and of course, Bruce Patten and Roger Fisher (all are the best practitioners in their own field), one couldn't possibly wrote a book like this.

I doubt that if this book can change the world, as our world is now in such a deep trouble. Nevertheless, I am quite sure, and have high hope that, this book could definitely transform a lot of relationships, and makes our live more appreciative and meaningful, including mine, hopefully.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and smart, June 17, 2008
This review is from: Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength (Hardcover)
Diana Smith is a brilliant student of interpersonal, team, and leadership dynamics. In this book, she shares the secrets that have allowed her to intervene successfully with teams and leaders for decades. Her explanations are clear and practical, and her illustrations vivid and enjoyable. I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed: A manual on how to be an arbitrator - somewhat predictable and not as enlightening as I expected, July 31, 2010
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This review is from: Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength (Hardcover)
The book from a practical standpoint makes sense. It focuses entirely on why conflicts arise and that is "its all about the relationship". So this book academically takes relationships, case studies of relationships, and breaks them down. It then uses simulations and communication techniques that I have seen used in other conflict resolution resources, such as: getting both parties to have empathy for each other, make both parties role-play as the other person in the conflict, use different verbiage to express yourself during conflicts, ensure the timing is correct when issues are to be addressed. The book does go deeper into this by basically diagramming relationships and the behavior/interactions that occurs between them. It then changes the diagrams to reflect changes in the interactions. Now this is all good stuff to me. However, most of the case studies on "conflict resolution" are approached by the perspective of "if a third party intervened and did X,Y, and Z.... things would be fixed". Unfortunately, I was looking for something that would help two people work out differences, not have to constantly rely on others. Also, most of the case studies are based on all management vs other management, or execs vs execs, or people in high power spots vs others in high power spots. I didnt get much out of it in regards to leading a small group of highly intelligent individuals all with ivy league degrees, trying to outshine everyone on their team including managers, etc.

HOWEVER, I am a person who leads by example. Vince Lombardi once said, "Leading by Example is not the best way to lead...it's the only way". Not that's an extreme case, but leading by example can be 50% of the conflict resolution if you are involved in one. Investing in the other person also is a great way to lead. Whether thats by investing time with the person to learn their issues, or educating them on how you feel and why you feel this way. Also educating them to your skill level is also a necessity if you want them to understand how you feel and think. I dont think these topics were covered very well (or at all?), although Im sure the author could argue this either way. I was hoping to find some more out-of-the-box methods of conflict resolution. This book focuses on how to be an arbitrator more than anything else.

Regardless, this is just my opinion and it is subjective, however just not what I was looking for even though I did appreciate the perspective and what the book was trying to accomplish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a new take on conflict resolution, January 31, 2009
So much material on conflict resolution focuses on coping styles and verbal tricks. When people see past those, where do you go next? McLain Smith shows us that conflict, particularly chronic smoldering bad feelings in the workplace, has an anatomy and a pathology that can be mapped, understood, and redirected. Using a case-based approach which will be fondly recognized by anyone with professional education, be it law, management or medicine, Diana successfully makes the argument that it is worth sitting down and investigating the relational root causes of chronic smoldering conflict. Then she shows you how in a stepwise approach that analyzes relationships in the workplace layer by layer.
The beauty of the approach is that just initiating it will already start to repair the damage, because she teaches an approach that involves assuming a learning stance. You basically become a partner with your coworker in dissecting what went wrong and learning to do it better. This stuff takes time, but how much time and $$$ does it take to have people quit, or worse, fired, and recruit new talent? How much capital is wasted when teams do not perform at their best? Many of my colleagues are reading DIVIDE OR CONQUER. I think it should be required reading for B school as well as anyone else who describes themselves as a professional. Your success or failure hinges on politics in the workplace, a buzzword for informal relationships. You cannot afford not to know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Conflict Across Natural Faultlines, January 25, 2009
By 
Tim Murphy (Portsmouth, Rhode Island) - See all my reviews
I'd been a mid-level manager in a publishing company for 15 years when I first encountered Diana Smith's work. Before that, I figured our office had invented conflict: in our repetitious squabbles between the art and editorial departments, or those between the editorial and the advertising sides of the business. What I hadn't understood was that similar debates were going on in every organization around: between research and marketing at Merck, between professors and administration at Harvard, between the Macintosh division and corporate HQ at Apple in the 1980s. The list goes on... and on. Smith's book illustrates that most of these conflicts produced results NONE of the people in them wanted. By focusing not on individual people but on the relationships involved in these conflicts, Divide or Conquer offers powerful tools and wise advice about using competing interests to build, not destroy, value. Above all, it's about people, and it will transform those who are open to its lessons and its wisdom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT GUIDE TO TRANSFORMING TEAMS!, January 12, 2009
This winner of a how-to book, filled with diagrams and highlighted "taking action" guidelines, gives you ideas, to-the-point information, and tools for understanding and transforming relationships. The second of this three-part book shows you how to change the nature of relationships over time. The third part shows how to master the practical challenges of transforming teams in the real world of interpersonal relationships. Written for consultants and practitioners on the front line. Top-notch contribution.
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Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength
Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength by Diana McLain Smith (Hardcover - May 29, 2008)
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