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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
The Four Star rating indicates my respect for what Brandon and Seldman accomplish in this volume. However, I wish they had developed several of their core concepts in much greater depth and with tone and diction worthy of those insights. I groaned when encountering clunkers such as "Get off that river in Egypt -- De-Nile!" because Brandon and Seldman are not "teaching synchronized swimming in a shark tank!" Then "Merge into the Savvy Zone" while recognizing the importance of "Different Strokes for Different Folks." (I'm not making this stuff up. It's in the book.) That said, Brandon and Seldman generally succeed when recommending and then explaining "high integrity political tactics for career and company success."

When reflecting on his career, President Harry S Truman proudly described himself as a politician, reputedly claiming that politics "is the art of the possible." It should be added that throughout Truman's public service, his personal integrity was impeccable. Brandon and Seldman make two obvious but important points: Like it or not, politics are inevitable when two or more -- and especially when three or more -- people are involved, and, it is nonetheless possible to be (as was Truman) an effective politician without compromising one's integrity. In fact, as Jim O'Toole asserts in The Executive's Compass: Business and the Good Society as does David Maister in Practice What You Preach: What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture, those whose lives are guided and informed by admirable values (e.g. honesty, loyalty, decency, trustworthiness) will achieve much greater success than will those whose lives aren't. Therefore, the "savvy" executive is one who combines high principles with street smarts. No news there.

What gives substantial value to this book is Brandon and Seldman's clever use of various devices with which their reader can conduct a self-audit. Long ago, after a substantial increase of tuition at Harvard, hostile parents confronted then president Derek Bok. His response: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." I thought of that comment as I examined the various self-diagnostic elements in this book. Two of the most damaging forms of ignorance are (a) not knowing what you need to know and (b) assuming what you think you know...but don't. To their credit, Brandon and Seldman make a rigorous effort to help their reader to reduce (if not eliminate) both forms of ignorance. Politicking, gossip, self-serving motives, back-stabbing, betrayals of confidence, etc. are harsh realities in almost any organization. Brandon and Seldman can help principled people to cope effectively with those realities. To me, that is this book's greatest benefit. Also, I strongly recommend that readers complete the comprehensive, self-scoring assessment tool and interpretative guide which Brandon and Seldman offer. How to obtain one? The authors explain on page 277.

As indicated earlier, I think the quality of thinking and (especially) the quality of writing in this book are too often a distraction from the quite important convictions and counsel which the authors share. Over-heated diction and under-developed ideas in combination with clichés prevent me from giving this book a higher rating.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
As a leadership coach, I have successfully used this book with clients at all levels of an organization. This book has been extremely helpful with clients who saw politics as "slimy" to help them look at political savvy as something that can be exercised with integrity.

This book does three things:

1) Reframes politics as ethical influence. Politics change from being a dirty word to a necessary leadership skill for effectively impacting the organization.

2) Offers a self-awareness tool to help people identify their strengths and weaknesses.

3) Offers practical ready-to-implement strategies for becoming more impactful.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2005
This is a fine tips and tactics book as indicated in the title. The authors' goal of taking the high ground, "moral means" to "noble ends" is laudable since there are only a few books out there that come from an ethical base rather than an amoral or Machiavellian perspective. The book didn't quite live up to expectations on that goal. Several of their suggestions had an amoral slant such as when they talk about "quashing" others' ideas, even if done inoffensively. At times, it comes across as more of a micro-level beginner's book when they write about the value of carrying the Wall Street Journal around in the hope of showing others one's business acumen. I doubt this ever really works. In addition, they go into power dressing, posture, elevator speeches, vocal speed and even how dilated one's pupils should be when influencing others. Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) is a much better source for this type of micro-level detail for influence management. I was hoping for a more strategic perspective. The book is very well written and helps one understand the reality of organizational politics, which some people would prefer not to hear. This book should help the many people they call `under political' defend themselves and survive when facing the down side of corporate politics.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I have historically been a person who has shunned the idea of political savvy. In the first place, being "political" meant being shady or underhanded. Add "savvy" to the equation, and you have a loud underhanded jerk in an Armani suit.

You can imagine my surprise when I used the Style Strength Finder in Rick Brandon and Marty Seldman's Survival of the Savvy and discovered that I was, in fact, quite high on the political continuum. I also saw that, truth be told, I had several unacknowledged weak spots which I knew had limited my possibilities. Who did I think was sailing my ship? I had been leaving myself vulnerable to certain conditions in the name of some moralistic misinterpretation of political savvy.

This book is chocked full of ideas and considerations. If you are not facing a specific political situation, I would recommend reading the first six chapters and then letting your fingers be your guide. Open the book to any page and read a few paragraphs or pages. It will change the way you look at what is right in front of you, and it will give you concrete ideas for increasing your ability to be your best and be seen for you best regardless of the political climate.

I learned that every environment is political. It is political to be non-political. Remember in high-school when you got your teacher assignments, and you immediately sought out someone older to find out how this teacher graded? That was political and smart. And guess what. Nothing has changed; the classroom has just gotten more complex, and you'd be wise to get some tips for success.

I was recently coaching a group of young people in Presentation Skills. They knew that their job was to bring fresh new ideas into the organization. From their conversations, I could tell that they were being rejected and scoffed at because they didn't "understand how things work around here." Management wanted new ideas but not at the price of their reputations. I was afraid these young folks would never get a chance to add anything to the organization; they would either surrender to tradition and start fitting in, or they would leave with a bad taste in their mouths. They had no idea how to navigate the political landscape. Then I heard that they would be taking the course "Survival of the Savvy," which connects to this book, and I had hope for them and for their organization. Everyone would win if these young people could find their way around the system and position themselves to add value while not rocking the boat. Plus the skills they would use to solve this immediate challenge would end up being life-skills. I was envious that I had not had their advantage earlier in my career.

You might have seen the movie "Ray." It is very clear that this man would not be known to us had he not had a tremendous amount of political savvy. He didn't let anyone pull the wool over his eyes - a real trick for a blind man.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2004
What Brandon and Seldman have accomplished here is no small matter, they have developed a clear map to navigate one the hardest aspects of organizational success: its political intricacies and the, at times, arbitrary nature of who and what gets rewarded, and what goes unnoticed.
In a direct and pragmatic manner, Survival of the Savvy manages to identify the core issues of organizational politics, helps individual recognize their political blind spots, and offers concrete and actionable strategies to increase one's influence, while maintaining one's identity and integrity.
What is contained and effectively presented here, constitutes one of the most important conversations people need to have about the workplace but they rarely ever get the benefit of having.
This is critical information for people who have been in large organizations for years -and have struggled with the unwritten rules of corporate- as well as for those just beginning their careers.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2004
I highly recommend this book! I wish it had come out earlier in my career. I would have been surprised less, understood more, and been a better leader for having read and applied what's in this book.

Brandon and Seldman essentially pull back the curtain on organizational politics. Their message about politics is simple: it exists in every organization and we need to deal with it. Our individual and company success depends on it.

Here's the point. When's the last time we looked at a manual to help us understand how to get things done in our organizations? Most of the time we're working with unwritten rules. We look to our managers, we watch our executives, we see what gets rewarded and funded, and we find out how and who makes the decisions.

Given this reality, Brandon and Seldman give us a road-tested approach to succeeding inside an organization with integrity. When we better represent our ideas, when we better communicate with others, when we know what's the best way of getting something done well, we and our companies benefit.

Brandon and Seldman help us determine our current place in the political spectrum, understand our skills in the arena, learn to detect other people's political orientation, and then guide us through practical approaches to building our own high-integrity organizational savvy skill set.

Brandon and Seldman have turned a taboo subject into one that will benefit us all by applying the principles laid out in the book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2004
I'm not the type to buy and read business self-improvement books, let alone write a review. I was given Survival of the Savvy as a gift and figured I'd take a quick skim and throw it on the heap of other unread books I have. But I got drawn in by some of the lists (like the "Style Strength Finder" and the "Reprogrammed Self-Talk") and I'm glad I did. In short, this book has quickly helped me at work, and I'm recommending it whole-heartedly to my friends and co-workers.

The book brought to the surface many concepts and work styles that I intuitively understood but did not consciously observe and practice in my day to day. For example, I've known about the unwritten rules in my office, but I generally didn't "read the system" and use them to my advantage. Now I am. I used to shun self-promotion as too ego-based, but now recognize its value when done with integrity and just got an assignment I wanted as a result. There's lots more examples but you get the gist - office politics is no longer a dirty word in my vocabulary, but rather an important tool to get my job done well in a way that is aligned with my personal values

Also, the book is very approachable and easy to read for the average person. If it wasn't it would have lost me early on. It appears based on well thought-out science, but its neither overly technical nor dense. There were a few parts that didn't work for me, but the vast majority did. It is one of the few business books I have ever read in entirety - on target and straightforward.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Most managers realize the need to understand the political structure of their organizations and adopt accordingly to make the most out of their careers. Unfortunately, the implicit assumption in most of these managers' minds is that one must also compromise his or her ethical standards during this process of evolution. This underlying postulation holds most members of large organizations back even if they somehow manage to gain the theoretical understanding of organizational politics. To make matters worse, the vast majority of books on the topic portray large companies as dangerous jungles where only the most ruthless rise to the top. Such dramatization can make a book more entertaining to read but will seriously hamper the reader's ability to apply the lessons into less "newsworthy" everyday situations.

In "The Survival of the Savvy" the authors take a much more realistic approach and offer a series of lessons that regular people who wish to retain a high degree of integrity and a clear conscience can apply right away. The heavy theoretical discussions found in numerous management books are replaced with simple, yet eye-opening advice that one can put to use immediately. In addition to providing numerous practical lessons, the book will also help managers see their environment in a more positive light.

As an avid reader of management books for well over a decade and a manager in a multinational financial institution (Deutsche Bank Securities) I highly recommend the book to all readers.

Regards,

Hunkar Ozyasar
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Like it or not, office politics is a reality in every organization, in every department, and on every team. Although it's easy to say that you're above politics because you're a techie, or that you're simply not interested in politics, these attitudes are a recipe for career disaster. This book will help you to recognize, and then deal with in an ethical manner, the various types of politics which you will face over the years. You don't need to become a master politician of the Gordon Gekko ilk, but you should at least be able to navigate the political shoals within your organization. This book is a well written, easy read which provides excellent advice for anyone wanting to succeed within their organizations. It provides clear advice for how to detect when your co-workers are undermining you and more importantly when you're undermining yourself. Although not written for IT people directly, it will clearly help you to interact with, and understand better, your project stakeholders, managers, and colleagues.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2004
This book is brilliant! I couldn't put it down!! It pulls everything together using a very smart and thoughtful framework about politics in the workplace. It's a great mix of intelligence and fun. I found myself on several occasions laughing at the rich examples, which really hit home for me. The book's credo of "Impact with Integrity" sounds like a contradiction in terms, but the authors develop a model that finally takes the complex topic of organizational politics and makes it easy to understand -- how you can get results AND still be a good person. Not only can individuals benefit from this book, but teams and companies as well. I plan to use this with my direct reports, along with it being our guide in team development. Can't wait for the sequel!!!
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