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The Art of the Possible: Create an Organization with No Limitations Paperback – May 13, 2010
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ForeWord Clarion Review BUSINESS & ECONOMICS The Art of the Possible Create an Organization with No Limitations Daniel M. Jacobs Federal Market Publishing 978-1-4499-6135-0 Five Stars (out of Five)
Inspired by a compliment from the author's friend and coworker, the title of The Art of the Possible reflects Daniel M. Jacobs' intent to teach readers about "creating an organization where things get done, where anything is possible."
The book cites examples of leaders such as Jack Welch who turned General Electric into a $300 billion-plus company, Elizabeth Dole who saved over $140 million in operating costs in two years as leader of the American Red Cross, and Charles Schwab who sold and later bought back his company and subsequently developed it into the largest discount brokerage firm in the country.
Jacobs is a recognized expert on public contracting and the author of several books on the subject. He is chairman and CEO of Federal Market Group, an organization in Washington, DC, that provides training, research, and consulting to government and industry. Based on his research and over thirty years of experience working with successful businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, he has observed that a key factor to an organization's success or failure is its leader, the person who creates the environment to enable success.
The Art of the Possible integrates seven leadership and management best practices used by great leaders into a concise, high level, step-by-step approach to facilitating success. It helps leaders get focused on the organization's goals and differentiates between defining a vision and a mission. Jacobs discusses building talent by establishing centers of excellence and high-performance teams. He also urges leaders to use a "toolbox" for their organization that standardizes "checklists, flow charts, proven approaches, best practices, software, and other tools for consistent, effective, and practical performance support," such as the Measures of Effectiveness Tables, developed and used by the Federal Market Group.
Jacobs suggests managing the fundamentals via processes, procedures, and baselines. As a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), he advocates following proven project management disciplines and developing a work breakdown structure (WBS) to identify fundamental organizational tasks and allocate resources.
The writing style is smooth, succinct, and tactical, and is intended to move the reader to action with inspiring true stories and examples from a good cross-section of industries--government, corporate, non-profit--that are applying the book's principles. Chapters are devoted to each of the seven best practices, and at the end of each chapter are handy checklists and personal action plan scorecards that readers should find helpful in assessing their requirements and plans.
Although the concepts aren't original and they're covered at a high level, what sets this book apart from many other leadership books is that it provides a turnkey management system developed from proven best practices.
The Art of the Possible is an excellent playbook for business leaders, entrepreneurs, MBA students, or others interested in applying a systematic, practical approach to creating a successful organizational culture that focuses on the potential. Cindy Kryszak --ForeWord Clarion Review ForeWord Clarion Review
"Dan Jacobs' profound understanding of leadership and management - how the two differ and how each can best be applied in conjunction with the other - has produced literally billions of dollars in success for his clients. The Art of the Possible charts that path to success for all who are willing to work hard enough to follow it." -- --Jed Babbin, Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense and Editor, Human Events
"This is not just another business book. This is a must read for anyone interested in building and improving an organization or managing a project to success. Dan Jacobs understands people and what motivates them to succeed. He also understands better than anyone I know how to bring people and processes together." -- --Michael Dallas, COO, Jefferson National Accelerator Facility
"What I like most about The Art of the Possible: Create an Organization with No Limitations is that it is so very practical. Seven steps to help you be more successful--not buzzwords or "flavors-of-the-month" but seven proven best practices, each fully explained with examples, guidelines, and checklists and personal action plan scorecards. It's easy to read, clearly written, well illustrated, and concise. And, it's the kind of book that you return to again and again, the kind of book that you really use to solve real problems and achieve real and lasting success. With The Art of the Possible, Dan has put into words what he has taught to thousands--with amazing results." --Randall Wotring, President EG&G/URS
"Dan Jacobs' The Art of the Possible: Create an Organization with No Limitations does more than just combine proven best practices in leadership techniques and management processes. He quickly charts a relentless course for success using a step-by-step, straight-forward, no-nonsense approach for the creation of an organization with no limits. He offers clear, powerful guidelines, checklists and self-assessment tools to help any leader succeed - especially in high stakes environments where just being good is not good enough!" --Frank J. Anderson, Jr., President, Defense Acquisition University
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I thought being a PMI-certified PMP would give me a leg up on my peers...and it did. This book, "The Art of the Possible", gives me a distinct advantage over and above my PMP certification---an 'extra leg-up' in any situation. I highly encourage anyone who wishes to achieve more than they currently achieve to read this book.
Dan has collected the absolute best of his wisdom and distilled it into something that you can read on an average plane flight. And it is so readable that you are likely to keep it in your briefcase for those times when you are stuck somewhere or have a few minutes to kill. Randomly selecting something to read from here for just five minutes will provide you with a wealth of information and an excellent refresher on key leadership concepts. I put this in the same category as Fisher and Ury's classic Getting to Yes - a book that you need to go back and read about once a year just to refresh you on things that are important to know and remember. I immediately bought enough copies for my entire team. Any company - large or small, manufacturing or service, government contractor or commercial entity, consumer based or B2B - could easily use this as a management retreat guidebook to review how well they practice the seven keys to an organization with no limitations.
The seven steps form an integrated approach to assessing your leadership and correcting those things that you don't do well. There is absolutely no fluff in this work. It is direct, hard-hitting, and exceptionally practical. It truly reflects Dan's view of the business world and its considerable lack of true leadership. With proper leadership, focus, the right team, managing the fundamentals with discipline, and honest communication nothing is impossible. Simple in its approach, a careful honest reading will highlight numerous areas for improvement in any organization (and individuals). He provides the what, the how, and offers tools to facilitate getting your team to function as a high performance organization.
If you read only one leadership book this year (and if you only read one, shame on you!) this is the one you should study thoroughly. Like me, you will be motivated to pick up copies for every leader or aspiring leader you know. As an instructor of complex material I read at least 35 books on management and leadership every year. Many are not worth their use of ink, sadly. Don't waste your time on the others that come out every year. Pick up this one and read it immediately. I cannot endorse this more strongly.
The generation of business ideas (e.g. developing and marketing a collaborative divorce practice) is something that comes naturally to me. What this book does is help me forge these business ideas into something realizable, into, for example, a business unit of the firm, with measurable goals over a set period of time, manned by the right person(nel), with the right marketing strategy and a focus on measuring the attainment of the goals.
The Art of the Possible synthesizes and reduces the best principles of corporate leadership and management into a seven-part system readable in three hours. As a consequence, it should become a handbook to all business leaders and entrepreneurs.
But the book is just the effect of something bigger.
As a divorce lawyer, I see lives circumscribed by divorce and the recriminations and attitudes that come with it. I know Dan Jacobs. He has been married 49 years. His book is the product of a remarkable life, career, husband, father and grandfather. He has figured out what is important in life and business: moral principle, love, respect, and utilization of the best of the individual talents for the benefit of the whole, of the team. The book would not have been conceivable if he had not so relentlessly developed his definition of self, family and career. Due to its synthesis of what is important in life with what is important in business, the book is a tour-de-force.