40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2006
Lencioni is quickly becoming a legend in modern business writing (publishers Jossey-Bass must rub their hands in glee every time he phones them and says he has a new title in the works,) but this is precisely because he is a smooth communicator who works outside the dry confines of academic writing. He does this by focusing on the story-telling - using fables and realistic stories to illustrate the all-to-common problems inside today's organizations.
Here he tackles a really big issue: the "silo mentality" that results in companies where 1+1+1=2 due to lost energy, time and commitment because the toughest competition comes from "the people over in engineering" or "the money people who don't understand we have to spend to get our product to market." Etc Etc.
In fact Ed Schein, who is worth checking out because he's the godfather of Organizational studies, concluded after some 45 years in the field, that organizations fundamentally break into three tribes: the engineers, the money people and the "people" people (marketing, HR etc.) He came to accept this as a reality, and advises us to work around it, live with it, instead of trying to get everyone to see everything the same way.
To his credit, Lencioni fundamentally shows the same acceptance. He doesn't lay down a single "thou shalt" template for universal values alignment within organizations - and he recognises the differences inherent within units of an organization. What he does is set up some simple rules for getting these divisions to at least pull in the same direction and focus on shared objectives.
Not all readers feel 100% comfortable with the Lencioni style. His advice always seems to come in 5s, his books each start with a fable: he sticks to a formula and he's in danger of becoming the John Grisham of management advice - too populaist and, in the end, too samey.
Fortunately he's smart enough to pack in excellent, usable advice. I'm a research consultant to organizations, and am putting this volume on my "books to give to clients" list.
This is ideal for managers at all levels, for change consultants and - as the opening fable tells it - for anyone who feels lost, thwarted or betrayed by their own organization, and can't quite identify the cause of their anxiety. If it isn't a specific issue, then its probably the structure of the place.
Recommended as a quick read, 200 pages, but with some big helpful diagnoses and problem-solving ideas. A great "pass along" book that can help bring about change.
43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2006
The 2 stars is the average I give to all the fable books written by Patrick.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: 5 stars
Obviously, it is the best one. (you can see it from the sales record in Amazon). It was the first Patrick's book I read. I have finished reading the whole book in one setting and couldn't wait and jump to look for his other books. The book has a reasonable length, setting up a bit simplified, but not over-simplified, and still reasonable fable-like setting to illustrate all important team dysfunctions and team building skills. The whole book is tight and coherent and an easy but enlightening read. Highly recommended!
Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable 4 stars
It is a good one but not as great as the five team dysfunctions. A very good explanation of all kinds of meetings and how to use each of them. I recommend you buy one, read it and keep it as a reference. One drawback is the author tried to spicy up the book so one of the main characters will occassionally scream out some rude comments if he didn't take his pills. I never work with such an unusual person and I prefer less dramatic in a management fable. (not something like in "Desperate Housewife", the neighbor besides you was a serial killer and the housewife across the street did her gardener and used her Chinese maid to bear her baby.)
I should have stopped here and never rush to read his other books..
The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: 2 stars
This is the one made me begin to feel betrayed. If the five dysfunctions have been crafted for months, this one seems to be done within weeks. The fable setting needs more polishing works. Although the four obsessions have been presented with reasonable clariy, reading this book makes you feel that the author thinks you are an idiot. Scenarios like how the VP HR plots to damage the trust seem to be more suitable for a toddler fable rather than something for teenagers, not mentioning for managers. The rough plot affects the whole four points--though four very good points. I will recommend you to skim the whole book in less than 20 minutes by standing in a bookstore.
Five temptations of CEO 1 star?
It is the one makes me begin to feel angry. Again, if the five dysfunctions have been crafted for months, this one seems to be done within hours. The major story (95% of the book) happened in a dark train, where a poor CEO was taught about these five temptations by some ghost-like old men, who turned out later to be the previous CEOs in the SAME company! Again the five temptations are all great and worthwhile points. It is the plot that made me sick. If you have a chance, skim the whole book in less than FIVE minutes.
Silos, Politics and Turf Wars NEGATIVE 1 star
The worst one. Negative 1 star is because it wasted my time. I thought the five temptation one was the worst until I read this one. Patrick spends most of the book to illustrate the silo problems rather than provide any solution. And he even spends many pages about the main character's struggle in balancing his work and his wife's pregnancy, which I believe, should belong to another fable about personal life balance, given how many pages the author devoted to this. From other fables, more or less, you can at least learn something. But not from this one. Forget it!
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
"Pleeease write that book. The silos in this company are driving me crazy...," so writes one of Pat Lencioni's readers after they meet.
Pat Lencioni has spent his career focused on the "heart" of organizations and identifying behaviors blocking personal and organizational excellence. Lucky for us, he has found another niche, as a best selling author, sharing his observations and remedies in fable form. His first four books - "The Five Temptations of a CEO", "The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive", "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team", and "Death by Meeting" have now sold over one million copies and are being translated into foreign languages.
With "Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars," Lencioni has tackled a perplexing problem that has frustrated humanity since the beginning of recorded time. `Silos' is a metaphor drawn from the large grain silos that one sees throughout the US Midwest. It is a term of derision that suggests that each department on an organization chart is a silo and that its stands alone, not interacting with any of the other departmental silos.
Lencioni addresses a serious problem facing most organizational leaders. A recent study by the American Management Association found 97% of executives believed `silos' have negative effects on organizations, 31% believed they have extensive destructive consequences, and 83% believed they existed in their companies.
As with earlier books, "Silos" centers on a fictional story and ends with a separate insightful analysis providing tools to help readers minimize or possibly eliminate Silos, and the aftermath (politics and turf wars), in their organizations. This book will appeal to anyone who works for or leads any organization, as well as community and political leaders.
Lencioni's "Silos" centers on Jude Cousins and what follows after his life at Hatch Technology. Cousins leaves Hatch after a merger which leaves Batch, the newco, with two heads of everything, no direction, and discontent. Soon after setting up his own shop, Cousin Consulting, Theresa, his wife, announces she is pregnant increasing the pressure for income and benefits.
Faced with twins on the way and a tanking economy, Jude quickly learns he will be unable to provide for his family as a generalist and begins to rethink his future. With the help of existing customers -The Madison Hotel where he did market positioning, JMJ Fitness Machines where he advised on reducing costs, Children's Hospital where he helped a friend transition into the role of CEO, and Sacred Heart Church - Cousins finds his niche as he observes silos and its offspring, the resultant politics and turf wars.
He becomes determined to find a solution for the problem and sets about to convince his customers, all of whom complained about `silos,' to give him a chance to implement a solution. He gets a green light from Madison Hotel first and fails in his attempt.
While at John Muir Hospital for the delivery of the twins, Cousins observes how hospital personnel from different departments serve in the ER as a cohesive team. "It was a bizarre and beautiful mix of chaos, coordination, and communication"....and, why was this not true for the entire hospital? That's when it all clicked. There were no silos in the ER, yet everyone came from different departments. Why?
Cousins then heads off to JMJ and starts to put it all together. With success in reducing silos at JMJ, he moves on to all of his customers learning new twists from each. Eventually, his success brings him back to Batch.
"Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars" will provide the reader with Cousins' learnings, and Lencioni's underlying theory and remedy. Breaching cultural barriers within an organization is a big challenge. Ultimately, it is the path of openness. In an open environment, people work towards a single goal and share information seamlessly with one another. Instead of pursuing hidden agendas, they collaborate. Instead of indulging in turf squabbles and political infighting, they work towards overarching goals. One needs to ask fundamental questions about the organization's goals, metrics, and strategies. The organization needs to know what it wants to be when it grows up. And each member of the group needs to know how they fit into the scheme of things and how they're working in relation to other groups.
This is an important new addition to the Lencioni library and a must read for all organizational leaders and all who seek personal and organizational excellence. Rapidly increasing competitive pressures from new technology, non-traditional competitors, and rapidly changing markets demand open systems where information and action can flow quickly...and where `Silos' have been sent back to the farm.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2006
I was really looking forward to this book as a fan of some of his earlier books, especially five dysfunctions of a team, which is one of the most elegant frameworks i've seen on team dynamics.
lencioni's solution to silos and politics? a shared goal with supporting objectives and metrics. it's a lot more complex than just that, and i'm surprised he didn't bring in some of his other work related to team dynamics and leadership, which must also be significant levers to help combat this problem.
if you're looking to solve your problem with silos and politics within your own organization, keep looking...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2006
I am not sure why the author thought he had something to offer on this subject. There was no original thought or useful lessons on the topic that was promised by the title. I read this book because it was the subject of an on-line book club for public health leaders but will be much more discriminating in the future regarding the purchase of books that are recommended by this group.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
In the style that Lencioni uses in his other books, this follows the life of a consultant tasked with removing the problems facing organizations: in this case, territorial teams. The author is clearly experienced with this problem, as his depictions of both the situations and reactions to "obvious" business actions are true to my past as well. It's also a very engaging book with a worthwhile message: that distraction (in the form of crisis) is a good way to get the teams working together effectively.
I think that the only thing it's missing is that it could've gone a bit further. Crisis is one form of unifying distraction; ambitious goals and worthwhile causes are two others that I've seen work as well. The lesson about turf wars should be that they are the result of stagnation, not that you need to be in crisis mode all the time. Crisis mode leads to eventual burn-out, which is even worse than turf wars...
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2006
I'm sorry - generally I'm a fan of business stories, but this one really missed the mark. In attempting to bring a sense of realism to his characters, it seems he focused too much on story plot and character development and not enough on the mechanics of politics and providing real examples of how to deal with it from all levels. I want "take back to my desk" application. This book fell short.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2006
This book was well-written and lays out the problem very clearly. For those interested in finding a solution to the age-old problem of conflicts of interest caused by function-based departments, you may want to check out a book called "Pyramids are Tombs" that details how to design a professional service company to eliminate conflicts of interest and align people towards a common cause.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2006
It was ok, didn't have a whole lot of substance to it. It was an easy read. Some things were interesting but it was written for more of a novice. The whole book could be boiled down to about 40 pages. Again, it was ok but don't get your hopes up.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
If you enjoy reading about the evils of organizations that focus on optimizing results for the different functions (silos) rather than the whole enterprise, you'll cheer your way through this book. The indictment part of Silos, Politics and Turf Wars is a clear five-star effort.
If you like fables, you'll find this one engaging. Frustrated by turf wars in his newly merged company, Jude Cousins quits to found his one-man consulting operation. He feels comfortable with the financial cushion that stock in his old company provides, as well as his initial assignments. Then the assignments begin to falter and the stock dives. Jude needs a new approach. Learning that every organization has problems with silos, Jude learns that people overcome silos when they face a real crisis that threatens the enterprise's existence. From that observation, he develops a consulting practice that helps top management teams realize that it's a mistake to wait for the crisis before acting.
If the book left it at that, Silos, Politics and Turf Wars would be a helpful book.
But Mr. Lencioni insists on repeating the same formula in his top management meetings led by Jude. Point out that they would cooperate and be more successful if there were a crisis and someone will say, "Why wait for a crisis?" Then, everyone pulls together.
Well, that's a nice day dream. But even people who want to work together as a top management team need a lot of help to get there. This book is very misleading about what the solution is based on my 30 plus years of working with companies on this very problem. I graded the book down accordingly.
If you don't mind that the book doesn't really have a prescription for solving the problem that Mr. Lencioni so well describes, then you'll feel like this is a five star book.
The writing is particularly smooth and the situations are very interesting to read about. If this were a novel, I wouldn't hesitate to give it five stars.