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The Wisdom of Failure: How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price

4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)


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  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wisdom of Failure October 9, 2012
Format:Hardcover
I have often blogged about failure. Having a failure does not making someone a failure. It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. And of course one of the expressions I am known for is "fail often, fail fast, fail cheap". This is one way for companies to innovate.

So of course I was interested to read Laurence Weinzimmer and Jim McCooughey's book - The Widsom of Failure - How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price.

I have long said that true wisdom is learning from other people's mistakes. Easy to say, tough to do. There is always a temptation to think others have failed because they were not smart enough, did not work hard enough, it was the wrong time etc. but when we are in the same position, we, too, often fail. I have seen this repeatedly in entrepreneurial situations.

The Power of Wisdom delves into almost all conceivable failure mechanisms. It includes real life business examples.

The Wisdom of Failure has many great chapters. One is "Seduced by Yes, Being All Things to All People". I know I tend to lack focus and it has served me well but I also know if I had more focus on just one thing I would be stronger. It is a balance.

Another is "Entrenched by Efficiency - Forgetting to put Effectiveness First". Again -the title says it all. We often chase efficiency where what we really want is effectiveness. We sometimes measure activities where what we really want is results.

Not admitting failure can cause wrong thinking and can even lead to cheating and massive failure. This pressure can be greatest in public companies where small failures are punished harshly and the time horizon is often months, not years.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointed May 8, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is like reading a textbook. The authors identify a concept, then list three or four categories of it. Then they provide an example. Then another concept is introduced, and three or four more categories of that concept are described again, along with another example. The back cover claims that the authors interviewed many high level managers and directors, which sounds impressive, and I have no doubt they did, however the use of these examples leads me to believe otherwise. An example used may only be described at the 30,000 foot view, and only take a paragraph to explain it. At first I thought it was simply a couple examples that were like that, but it quickly grew into a large pile of examples. They are very different examples, I'll grant the authors that, but it seemed like in such a spectacular management failure like Enron, the authors only cherry-picked certain activities to outline their point. I got the impression that the entire Enron fiasco came about because of one or two things. However, if one was to seriously examine the case, he would find that it wasn't only a single failure or two at the top, but a systematic series of failures that led to the demise of the organization (and as a result, the creation of SOX laws). This book would lead you to believe differently. It has great breadth, but very little depth in terms of the research presented to support their concepts. The examples and research brought forth in this book do a fine example of covering a large array of industries, but it seems the authors only scratched the surface of examining the problems, and were quick to attach a label to the type of behavior exhibited by the leaders, or the culture in that organization. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom of Failure December 17, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Wisdom of Failure is an insightful book about learning from not only success, but failures. The book contains a number of examples of how business leaders can learn from other's real-ife experiences in terms of analyzing when and how leadership goes awry. The authors offer sound advice from a wide source of industry leaders with proven track records of success - and from those who have learned to become better leaders through the crucible of failure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom of Failure October 22, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Talking about failure is something most people don't like to do, but this book shows how you can indeed learn some very valuable lessons from previous failures. Society today looks at failure as losing, through this book we can see how to use previous failures as a catalyst to our own success. If we can learn from our (and from other people's) mistakes, our successes may come easier and sooner thanks to those lessons learned.
The Wisdom of Failure and should be considered an effective tool for any organization or business that wants its employees or volunteers to be effective leaders and it should be a "must read" for anyone who is or desires to be in a leadership role.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom of Failure May 7, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a book in which everybody may find something from their workplace. It's contents are very familiar in that sense. It may feel like the statement of the obvious from time to time, but it is never boring.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much needed lessons from the dark side of leadership October 7, 2012
Format:Hardcover
This book takes a fresh approach to leadership. While it seems counterintuitive -- to become a successful leader you need to learn from failure -- it is important, yet rarely talked about. The authors offer three sets of the "most damning" leadership failures we need to be aware of: unbalanced orchestration, drama management and personality issues.

What I like best about this book is it is based on research. There is no "cheese" to move or "carrots." Instead of offering simple opinions, the authors completed a seven-year research study based on numerous interviews with some household-name CEOs. And even though it is research based, it is also extremely practical. There are a lot of examples and each chapter ends with key takeaways they call "Successful Navigation" to maneuver around critical leadership mistakes. This is book will be required reading for my management team. Overall, I think this is a great book!
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