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The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels Hardcover – September 18, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (September 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591391105
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591391104
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This earnest guide to career transition periods-when a new job or promotion puts an employee in an unfamiliar role-asserts, reassuringly, that navigating the all-important first 90 days is a "teachable skill." Business professor Watkins, co-author of Right From the Start: Taking Charge in a New Leadership Role, lays out a "standard framework" for leadership transitions, based on "five fundamental propositions," "ten key challenges," and a four-fold typology of situations that new managers find themselves in. Fortunately, Watkins balances the theorizing with practical steps managers can take to get on top of things and initiate changes, including elaborate self-assessment checklists, planning exercises and meticulous guidelines on how to have conversations with underlings and bosses. His advice, if not very original, is sound. He warns managers not to assume that their existing skills will suffice for new roles, advises them to pursue small-scale "early wins" to boost credibility, and admonishes workplace Machiavellis to "avoid pressing for closure until you are confident the balance of forces acting on key people is tipping your way." Watkins's penchant for cut-and-dried schematizations sometimes goes overboard, especially in the book's plethora of elementary graphs, tables, diagrams and matrices (novice orators are informed that "classic values invoked to convince others to embrace potentially painful change are summarized in table 8-1," while the oceanic topic of "Intersecting Cultural Dimensions" gets boiled down to a three-ring Venn diagram). But if the content of Watkins's counsel is not always obviously helpful, his systematized approach to thinking will at least help panicky executives keep their wits about them.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In these days of the public's microscopic scrutiny of corporate C-level executives, it's a wonder anyone would aspire to the CEO position. Amazingly enough, many eager managers are still climbing--and Harvard Business School professor and author (Right from the Start [1999]) Watkins helps prepare them for career moves, accelerating their transitions. This is, essentially, practical advice about undertaking new opportunities and understanding new vulnerabilities, quickly and without much upheaval. Different steps--sometimes simultaneously, sometimes sequential-- define success in the first three months, from promoting yourself (i.e., taking charge fast) to keeping your balance. Anecdotes enliven the checklists and sample learning plans; in fact, one specific case--Douglas Ivester of Coca-Cola--underscores the absolute necessity to adapt and change rapidly in new positions. Much content is human resources related, based on self-discipline, team building, and the availability of trusted advice and counsel. Would that every newly elected president of the U.S. heeded this practice. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Michael D. Watkins is the world's leading expert on accelerating leadership transitions. He is the author of the international bestseller The First 90 Days, which The Economist recognized as "The On-boarding bible."

Michael is a Co-founder of Genesis Advisers, a leadership development consultancy located in Massachusetts. Genesis Advisers (www.genesisadvisers.com) is the leading provider of on-boarding and transition acceleration services. Based on our the First 90 Days® research and our experience with Fortune 100 clients since 1999, our full array of consulting servicies, coaching processes, programs, virtual workshops, and self-guided materials help leaders at at every level of the leadership pipeline take charge more quickly and effectively.

Michael works closely with a gifted team at Genesis to assess client needs, and design and deliver the right transition solutions. He helps Genesis clients implement what we call Enterprise Transition Architectures™ - a common core framework and toolkit for accelerating transitions, cost-effectively delivered through First 90 Days coaching, programs, virtual workshops and self-guided materials to all levels.

In addition to his role at Genesis Advisers Michael gives speeches on leadership, organizational transformation, and transition acceleration to executive audiences, as well as designs and delivers senior executive team meetings, and coaches newly appointed senior executives and their teams during transitions.

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend it for anyone starting a new job.
A. Wick
The quicker you can get your new direct reports up to speed, the more you will help your own performance.
Peter Leerskov
Great book with easy to understand examples and techniques new managers can use in their own work.
Andrew Heading

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

429 of 459 people found the following review helpful By Peter Leerskov on December 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is not just for managers at the executive level. It's also for you and me. It's for functional managers, project managers, and supervisors. The book targets new leaders at all levels that are making the transition from one rung of the ladder to the next.

If you have just been promoted to a new leadership position (or expect to be soon), then this book is for you.

The book outlines ten strategies that will shorten the time it takes you to reach what Watkins calls the breakeven point: the point at which your organization needs you as much as you need the job. Here they are ... the ten strategies:

1. PROMOTE YOURSELF. Make a mental break from your old job. Prepare to take charge in the new one. Don't assume that what has made you successful so far will continue to do so. The dangers of sticking with what you know, working hard at doing it, and failing miserably are very real.

2. ACCELERATE YOUR LEARNING. Climb the learning curve as fast as you can in your new organization. Understand markets, products, technologies, systems, and structures, as well as its culture and politics. It feels like drinking from a fire hose. So you have to be systematic and focused about deciding what you need to learn.

3. MATCH STRATEGY TO SITUATION. There are no universal rules for success in transitions. You need to diagnose the business situation accurately and clarify its challenges and opportunities. The author identifies four very different situations: launching a start-up, leading a turnaround, devising a realignment, and sustaining a high-performing unit. You need to know what your unique situation looks like before you develop your action plan.

4. SECURE EARLY WINS. Early victories build your credibility and create momentum.
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164 of 179 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fine book with a lot of substance, and I place it slightly second to Thomas Neff and James Citrin's "You're in Charge--NOW WHAT?."

From my point of view as the reader, Neff & Citrin actually catalyzed me and inspired me into preparing a 100 day plan broken into 10 ten-day blocks, while Watkins is more of a manual with lots of useful checklists and suggested questions and so on, but between the two, Neff & Citrin actually drove me to the needed outcome: my own 100 day plan.

Both are good. If you buy only one, buy Neff & Citrin, but I do recommend that you buy both, read Neff & Citrin first, and then cherry pick from Watkins--the cost of these books is trivial in comparison to the return on investment.
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148 of 164 people found the following review helpful By D. Kanigan VINE VOICE on December 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought "The First 90 days" by Michael Watkins and Neff/Citrin's book titled "You're in Charge - Now What." I found Neff's book to be a stronger and more practical guide. Both offered excellent guidance however Neff & Citrin produced a more interesting and readable (less text-book like) book with real life examples and a road map. Word of warning in that both books are written for senior business management and less applicable for lower levels of management or line positions.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am the CEO of a successful holding company involved in diversification. I was drawn to this book because I was looking for a roadmap for leaders to jump start their success. This wonderful book provides the necessary critical strategies. I recommend that leaders on all levels read this book and another, Optimal Thinking: How To Be Your Best Self to understand the shortcomings of suboptimal thinking in corporate culture and to create a team of optimizers who optimize every situation. Five stars for each of these books!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Edyth Ardolino on November 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great and practical guide to help any leader transition into a new job, position, and organization--within 90 days (a critical timeframe to be considered as "hitting the ground running"). There's a checklist at the end of every chapter to help you absorb key lessons, apply them to your situation, and tailor them to your own transition plan. The book is loaded with practical strategies, lessons, and advice for a smooth transition.

The First 90 Days - Chapter Summaries:

INTRODUCTION: THE FIRST 90 DAYS

- The actions you take in your first three months in a new job will largely determine whether you succeed or fail.

1. Promote Yourself: Make the mental break from your old job and prepare to take charge in the new one. The biggest pitfall you face is to assume that what has made you successful to this point in your career will continue to do so.

2. Accelerate Your Learning: Accelerate the learning curve as fast as you can in your new organization. Understand its markets, products, technologies, systems, structures, and culture, and politics.

3. Match Strategy to Situation: Diagnose the business situation accurately and clarify its challenges and opportunities.

4. Secure Early Wins: Early wins build your credibility and create momentum.

5. Negotiate Success: Figure out how to build a productive working relationship with your new boss and manage his/her expectations. Plan for a series of critical conversations. Develop and gain consensus on your 90-day plan.

6. Achieve Alignment: Figure out whether the organization's strategy is sound. Bring its structure into alignment with its strategy.

7.
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