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Stacking the Deck: How to Lead Breakthrough Change Against Any Odds Hardcover – October 20, 2014
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From the Inside Flap
"Seasoned executives well knowoften by learning the hard waythat introducing and implementing breakthrough change is an uphill battle. No matter how necessary the change or how seemingly evident the need, this process demands continuous hard work. That's why you need to do everything you can to stack the deck in favor of success." From the Introduction
Change is a constant, and leaders must do more than keep upthey must innovate and accelerate to succeed. Yet people are often unnerved by change. As a leader during a time of transformation, you may stand up before teams that are indifferent, or even hostile, and need to convince them that change is necessary and urgent. More than money, time, or resources, the ability to lead these people determines your ultimate success or failure. What does it take to be an effective change leader and increase the odds of success?
Stacking the Deck offers a proven, practical approach for inspiring meaningful, lasting change across an organization. Stacking the Deck presents a nine-step course of action leaders can follow from the first realization that change is needed through all the steps of implementation, including assembling the right team of close advisors and getting the word out to the wider group.
Based on Dave Pottruck's experiences leading change as CEO of Charles Schwab and later as chairman of CorpU and HighTower Advisors, these steps provide a guide to ensure that your change initiative and your team have the best possible shot at success. In addition, established business leaders who have led extraordinary change initiatives demonstrate the steps in action. These executives include eBay CEO John Donahoe, Wells Fargo former CEO Dick Kovacevich, Starbucks chief executive officer Howard Schultz, San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer, JetBlue CEO Dave Barger, Asurion CEO Steve Ellis, Pinkberry CEO Ron Graves, and Intel's President Renée James, among others.
Leading an organization through major changewhether it's the introduction of a new product, an expansion to a new territory, or a difficult downsizingis not for the faint of heart. While success is never guaranteed, the right leadership, process, and team make all the difference. For all leaders facing major change in their organizations, Stacking the Deck is an indispensable resource for putting the odds in your favor.
From the Back Cover
PRAISE FOR STACKING THE DECK
"Stacking the Deck offers a compelling playbook for transforming an enterprise before it's too late. Dave Pottruck lays out a pragmatic nine-step method for breakthrough change. For surmounting inertia, resistance, and riskand for leading when it really mattersthis is the driver's manual."
Michael Useem, professor of management and director, the Center for Leadership and Change, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
"Dave Pottruck provides remarkably specific and practical advice on how to move from your vision of the future to buy-in across the company, including team building, planning, execution, and metrics. He navigates with assurance and ease, showing step by step how to make you an inspired leader who succeeds. Stacking the Deck is the ultimate user's guide to breakthrough change."
Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, former United States Trade Representative; senior international partner, WilmerHale
"Stacking the Deck is packed with insights about the difficulties of leading change and how to navigate past those difficulties without losing momentum. Dave Pottruck knows change from the inside out, and his detailed, practical guidance will help readers of all stripes anticipate and prepare for opportunities in the future."
Andy Bryant, chairman of the board, Intel
"While the vast majority of change initiatives fail to find even a semblance of organizational traction, Dave Pottruck's practical and inspiring approach is sure to help readers stack the deck in their favor. It's been the grounding force of his successes, the basis of his popularity as an award-winning professor at Wharton, and the reason he's the chairman of our board of directors and one of our most in-demand teachers."
Alan Todd, CEO, CorpU
"Stacking the Deck guides you through how to embrace change and take full advantage of the opportunities leaders confront in real time. Dave Pottruck writes how he talks: blunt, honest, practical, straightforward, and oozing with the confidence of a world-class winner."
Ted Leonsis, founder, chairman, and CEO, Monumental Sports & Entertainment; majority owner, the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, and the Verizon Center
From the Manufacturer
Author Q&A with David S. Pottruck, Author of Stacking the Deck:
What led you to write Stacking the Deck?
I taught a course at the Wharton School on leading breakthrough change for almost 10 years, and it seemed to me that we were creating a body of knowledge on this subject that I just didn't see anywhere else. Most of the books on change are written by consultants or academics—and they've written terrific books—but they didn't have the whole story. They told you what to do, but they didn't exactly explain why it is so hard, and what do you need to do to overcome the barriers, the steps, the processes. In today's world, with globalization, technology, and many forces driving an increased pace of change, I thought we needed a book on how to lead breakthrough change.
Is your book only for C-suite executives?
This book is for anyone who is in the C-suite or who aspires to be in the C-suite. The process of leading breakthrough change often gets delegated down to people in upper-middle management type of roles, people who are really in the trenches getting things done. I wrote Stacking the Deck wanting them to understand from a larger perspective what the process is all about. So often a C-suite executive will say: "We need to make this change and I want you to make this happen," and then that person owns that responsibility.
What does the term “breakthrough change” mean?
Breakthrough changes are very disruptive changes that alter the way an organization does things in ways that are uncomfortable for people, ones that cause people to change long-held beliefs and processes. With any breakthrough, you hope to create a big upside, but there is usually a lot of resistance. In my experience, there is always more resistance than you would expect. You as the leader look at the idea, you look at what has to be done, and you think this is a great idea and people are going to love it, and then they don't. It's not about whether the idea is great, it's really about the fact that people are uncomfortable with change. They don't want to do things in a new way. They like being comfortable and confident about the way they've done it for years.
What needs to be changed in how future executives are taught?
I teach executive MBA students who are working and getting their MBAs at the same time. They are shouldering a huge amount of work with a full-time job and a full-time education. However, the opportunity for them to blend their real-work experiences into what they are learning gives them an immediate lab to practice and apply things. It doesn't mean much to have new knowledge unless you are applying it to solve problems and create opportunities.
Is it okay to fail?
That depends. None of us like to fail. It's not okay to fail when the failure brings down the whole company or creates a similar risk to the reputation of the company. You're not allowed to fail if you are going to bring the company to its knees, but you can't go forward and go after breakthrough changes if you are scared of failing. You can't be bold without taking some risks.
With many of the best products we implemented during my time at Schwab, the first version of the product was not really that successful. But we went back and took the best parts of the product, we figured out from the consumer what they didn't like, and then came back with version two or version three—and that's typically when we hit it big. You can sit around a conference room and wonder how consumers are going to react to the product, but you don't know until you get it into their hands.
Top Customer Reviews
There are some gems of wisdom in this text. For instance, as part of step 8 (which is assessing, recruiting, and empowering the broader team), the author makes it clear why you might hire someone who failed on a project. The reason is that those who failed and learned from their mistakes may offer priceless insight.
In the communicating and connecting to inspire chapter he makes it clear that “it is not about what you say; it’s about what they hear.” You may think your message inspires and motivates, but if your team has not heard it that way, you have not succeeded.
Two more quotes that I found inspiring were:
1) “We earn the right to communicate electronically by the time and energy we invest in communicating personally.”
2) “Electronic communication is a tool for communicating information—not for inspiring passion.”
In combination with the excellent advice, I would have liked examples with more substance, however. For instance, he told how Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO) inspired his staff everywhere by penning a weekly “Transformational Agenda” that he released on Monday’s. I would have liked a sample “agenda” in the book that dissected “why and how” this worked.Read more ›
As Pottruck points out, organizations are built around stability and risk minimization but in today's world to stay relevant organizations must introduce change or stagnate. He gives real life examples of several CEOs who constantly introduce innovation and change in their organizations for growth. Since the book is based on several real examples, the anecdotal and conversational style are well suited to this book rather than more research and data oriented style.
I've seen massive change at a few top companies as an employee. I've seen CEOS who transformed the company and positioned it for growth and others who crippled it with change - sometimes the very same company. Given my own experience, I think this book should be required reading for anyone leading change on a large scale.
Just the first 2 chapters on getting buy in for the change and creating a sense of urgency and how to assemble a good leadership team are so valuable that I felt like underscoring some sentences again and again. Pottruck addresses the issue of how people resist change with "we've always done it this way" at all levels from the bottom to the top and how important it is to understand the issue from their perspective yet be able to communicate your vision. He's very down to earth as he urges the change leader to ponder questions like - do I truly believe in the purpose behind the change? Am I convinced about the urgency?Read more ›
All this plus you get the overlay of proven successes from well known leaders who are authentic enough to share when and how they failed so we can learn and avoid those potholes.
Fantastic coupling of the timeless, the practical, business and academia. Highly recommend it for leading any change in any seat.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a great read. It was written at the managerial / executive level, and does a great job in highlighting pitfalls in leading a breakthrough change. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Bailey R Pinney
Hard to read, good satire. Not what I thought it would be based on the write up & advertising.Published 14 months ago by Jeffrey Clee
A must read for business owners and leaders at all levels. The chapters on teamwork and communication really struck a chord with me and I felt compelled to highlight quotes so... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Nick Coccimiglio
There are many books written on the topic of “Change”. Although many books are written about how to manage change or ‘deal with’ change, few are written about affecting change. Read morePublished 16 months ago by John Smith
Dave Pottruck is a remarkable man, and I was fortunate enough to work out in the Gym that bears his name while I attended the University of Penn. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Michael H.
Pottruck draws from years of experience in change management to provide some great nuggets of information on how to effectively change an organization. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Epilady
I am a middle manager and one thing I still have issues with like most is implementing change. This book, Stacking the deck gives people like me a model to use to implement needed... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jeremy Haggard
The manager reading this book will gain a step-by-step plan for implementing change in spite of opposition and problems of all types. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Neal Reynolds