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The Right Fight: How Great Leaders Use Healthy Conflict to Drive Performance, Innovation, and Value Hardcover – February 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780061717161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061717161
  • ASIN: 0061717169
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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

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Customer Reviews

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Most mission-driven leaders tend to avoid conflict.
J. Fitzpatrick
Only then can the right external fights be fought right...and won.
Robert Morris
This book is a must and will be will be great guide.
K. Chi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As I read the Introduction to this book, I was reminded of two observations by Peter Drucker and one by Michael Porter. First Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all" and "The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong question." Now Porter: "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. " Especially given the current and imminent global economy, it is imperative for business leaders to keep these observations in mind when deciding what to do...and what not to do. This is what Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer seem to have in mind when asserting that "if you want to succeed in an age of ever-increasing complexity, you have to establish clear vision, set strategy, and build alignment. Then you need to systematically orchestrate right fights - and fight them right."

They recommend six "Right Fight Principles" to guide and inform decisions made and devote a separate chapter to each - explaining HOW to apply the principles by citing real-world examples -- in Parts Two and Three, once they have established (in Part One) a context, a frame-of-reference, for them by explaining how and why leaders "must introduce and manage right fights to achieve their strategic objectives. More specifically, to create breakthrough performance, meaningful innovation, and lasting values" and to "use tension for maximum benefits" while recognizing ("decoding") and then avoiding "all kinds of wrong fights." Then in Part Four, they provide tests for identifying and leading right fights as well as an "eye-opening" assessment tool for teams, "The Reverse Fishbowl.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jacqueline Novogratz on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Right Fight should be required reading for every leader of an organization. Saj-Nicole Joni brings deep insight into the importance of focusing on the real issues with a sense of urgency. When change is at stake, people often become uncomfortable, and rather than confront the heart of the issue, will quarrel over petty grievances. In organizations with a more confrontation-averse culture, important discussions are avoided in order to be "nice" to colleagues (or just politically loyal). As a result, we often miss the point of why we come to work each day which is to make real things happen for the world. In this sense, according to Joni, Right Fights are critical to our very survival as organizations, as communities, as full human beings. I have found the language and frameworks of Right Fights to be very useful in my own organization and cannot recommend it highly enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Heffernan on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As you'd expect from Joni, she asks fantastic questions. Are we having the right fight? should be asked in every boardroom, every meeting room, and at every water cooler. You could also ask yourself: are we having enough fights? Are we fighting them the right way? This book will provoke a great deal of excellent thinking and probably a lot of fighting - of the best possible kind. What I especially liked about it was the insight that conflict can be good, not for its own sake, but for the truths which it teases out. Probably the single worst thing most businesses do is suppress conflict; with this book, they might have more courage to be better informed. It's a quick, easy read that will leave you better equipped to find out what is going on in your business or department and with far better ideas about what to do about them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Loren G. Carlson on February 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
CEOs need this book. We don't need more simplistic five point formulas. Chapter 3, "Jack Sparr Takes on a Right Fight", resonated with me because it captured a sense of the complexity we must deal with when no solutions are "right" and we must force our teams to move out of their comfort zones and compete with each other to find a truly new solution and not a compromise.

I am reminded of all the wasted energy I saw (and contributed to) at AT&T while we were planning and implementing the massive divestiture and reorganization of the Bell System. There were many fights that needed to be fought for the good of all but the energy that went into the wrong fights sapped the strength of the organization and in the end made it impossible to succeed in the new world we helped to create.

Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer have done a good job showing us the obvious need to fight the right fights is a very difficult leadership challenge. We need to always be asking ourselves is this a fight worth fighting (and how do I know)? But selecting the right fights isn't enough. You must also fight the right fights right. Fighting the right fights wrong can be more destructive than fighting the wrong fights.

One of the most important lessons that Joni and Beyer present from their research is the critical role outsiders can play in suggesting ways to 'change the picture' and look at problems from a new place. And, the critical role that your gut plays in helping you know when you need to change the picture.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Fitzpatrick on February 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A valuable tool for non-profit, philanthropy and other mission-driven leaders searching for better tools to help decide which battles are worth fighting. Beyer/Joni's practical, real-life examples can be applied to any organization. Most mission-driven leaders tend to avoid conflict. Helpful to me as a leader to learn the perils of avoiding internal tension and how to have productive conflict as part of your culture.
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