Customer Reviews: Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors
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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.
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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!
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VINE VOICEon February 12, 2006
"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.
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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...
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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.
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on March 30, 2015
Given the nature of human beings, functional silos, politics and turf wars will probably remain a fact of organizational life. That doesn't mean that organizations and leaders, in particular, should not try to address them.

Even though this book is primarily written as a fable, I personally discovered a number of helpful gems within the fable. I found the fable to be both engaging and an easy read.

I have only read one of the authors other books. I feel this book and the Advantage make a good set worth reading.

My wish for the book would be that the author had built out the theory chapter further with more How - To’s and guidance from his extensive consulting practice.
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VINE VOICEon June 25, 2006
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...
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on November 18, 2015
Patrick Lencioni's "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" is essentially required reading for my teams - it is a great book to work through communication and trust issues in an organization. This book follows the same writing style, and has equally useful advice. I only gave it 4 stars however because the content is really focused at leadership - especially senior leadership, which limits the usefulness somewhat. The great part about "Five Dysfunctions" is that EVERYBODY in the organization contributes - we are all on some sort of team. "Silos..." puts focus on the goals and priorities communicated by senior leadership instead.

It's a good book, but not as good and immediately applicable as "Five Dysfunctions". If you have read that one and are looking for more, then this is worth it. If you haven't yet read "Five Dysfunctions", I would recommend starting with it!
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on March 17, 2014
Silos, Politics and Turf Wars is one of the Patrick Lencioni fables made famous by his Five Dysfunctions of a Team. His fable format is just a business novel with the main character having a common business problem (e.g. bad team, bad job, or meetings) and sharing a story about how the main character solves the problems and the learning he has from it.

The story in Silos is about Jude who worked in a company Batch and after the company is in a merger, he decides to leave and start his own consulting firm. He has several clients and does reasonably well, but then notices that all of his clients have basically the same problem, the problem with silos. He sets off to explore this problem and solve it for his clients (I won't give away how he does it, as it is a novel still and you don't want to know the end from an amazon review :P)

As with all of the Lencioni books, it is well written and quite engaging. It is also short and you ought to be able to read it in a couple of days or so. He explains a couple of techniques for getting more management alignment and they are useful techniques. Though, due to the format, he doesn't dive very detailed in the techniques, but they are reasonably simple and he gives enough information for you to try it out.

I think Silos was ok. I didn't like it as much as e.g. Getting Naked, which was pretty good. However, it was an easy and enjoyable read and the techniques could be useful. I decided to do between 3 and 4 stars and ended up with 4 as, well, it was a nice read. If you read Lencioni books before and liked them, then you'll probably like this one too. If you haven't read a Lencioni book before, this one is not as good as Five Dysfunctions of a Team or Getting Naked, so I'd recommend those over this one.
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on December 11, 2014
I am preparing to facilitate a very important conversation among key stakeholders in an enterprise which will be much more effective as a result of my reading of this book. I have read several of Patrick Lencioni's books, and his ideas really captivate me. I love the "business fable" genre. While I am a career educator, I learn so much from Lencioni's stories and commentaries. He is a communicator gifted by God to help organizations reach their full potential, in spite of the shortcomings of all of us in those organizations. Read. This. Book.
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