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Stacking the Deck: How to Lead Breakthrough Change Against Any Odds Hardcover – October 20, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Seasoned executives well know—often by learning the hard way—that 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 up—they 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 change—whether it's the introduction of a new product, an expansion to a new territory, or a difficult downsizing—is 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 risk—and for leading when it really matters—this 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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118966880
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118966884
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kathleen San Martino TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
“Stacking The Deck” is written in a conversational tone unlike some managerial change books that are full of exercises and charts. In part one of the book, the author describes the nine steps toward achieving favorable change. These stages include developing a sense of urgency, unifying the team, communicating a clear vision, etc. Part two of the book focuses in the broad sense on how to lead this change which is mostly about effective communication and good planning.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I have founded several companies, taken two public, and I am doing a startup now. So, I have been around the block with 40 years of experience. My copy of Stacking the Deck is a mess. I tagged pages, made notes, and came up with dozens of notes to myself to make my newest enterprise an out of the park home run. The advice in the book is amazingly solid and actionable. Stacking the deck is written to empower the reader with actionable ideas that will in fact stack the deck for vastly superior results. A senior manager in a major corporation, a kid in his/her garage, or a seasoned entrepreneur will benefits from the wisdom, insight and stories that make this a must read that is rich with input from some of the most successful business minds in the World.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
David S Pottruck knows something about breakthrough change through his career as former CEO of Charles Schwab and an Intel board member, who also teaches top leaders about change in his highly rated executive MBA course. He presents a guide for leading this change in this book written for top executives and senior management.

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?
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Format: Hardcover
So many books on leadership and business have either a conceptual framework or anecdotes, missing the key element of HOW do I implement and execute the concepts on a practical level and WHEN (in which sequence). Dave Pottruck has captured the essence of a framework broad enough to apply to any endeavor you are privileged to lead, in any industry and yet also provides the "how to" steps to give a user manual that is both relevant and practical.

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.
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