From Publishers Weekly
Business strategists and consultants Joni and Beyer argue that carefully created and managed tensions in the workplace can be a propulsive aid in driving performance. The authors state that alignment—agreement on mission, strategy, and company goals—gets a business only so far; strategically steered conflict can create breakthrough performance, deliver lasting innovation, and groom the next generation of leaders. The authors offer six guiding principles: make sure the fight matters; focus on the future; pursue a noble purpose; keep conflict sport, not war; structure formally, but work informally; and turn pain into gain. Elucidating key points are numerous case studies of successful creative tension (Julie Taymor's production team for the Broadway play The Lion King
, Doug Conant's management of Campbell Soup) and failures (Larry Summers's overly aggressive leadership style at Harvard University). The authors also provide a series of questions for managers to determine if the fight is worth pursuing. Joni and Beyer make a convincing and counterintuitive argument that instigating dissent, if done selectively, can produce big results. (Feb.)
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Consultants Joni and Beyer contend that large-scale change in an organization requires dissent, and managing dissent is a critical aspect of leadership for the complex twenty-first century. Leaders must work within the debate, and the authors aim to help in deciding what is worth fighting for (the right fight) to ensure that the battle is about what really matters. Then they describe how to conduct the fight with skill and compassion so that participants grow and develop respect for diverse views, and in the end, everyone is whole—winners and losers. The authors cite three benefits of the right fight: to lower risk because vigorous debate is necessary for effective systems of checks and balances, to create value arising from innovation and real change, and to improve leadership skills and strategic thinking. Although the book is an infomercial for their respective consulting activities, Joni and Beyer nevertheless present valuable, thought-provoking ideas and conclude with an assessment tool for determining if an issue is an appropriate candidate for a right fight. --Mary Whaley