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Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength Hardcover – May 29, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The most original ideas on conflict in years. A must read for anyone interested in making their organization a success.”
Roger Fisher, author of Getting to Yes

“One of the most enlightening and useful books I’ve read about that indomitable, freighted four- syllable word that has the power to destroy dreams and lives––or enliven them: relationships. Smith has a unique style, smart and deft, coupled with a fresh sense of humor.”
Warren Bennis, distinguished professor of business, University of Southern California, and coauthor (with Noel Tichy), Judgment

“Work relationships are like the weather—everybody talks a lot about them, but most think they can’t do much about them. Such fatalism soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, resulting in mediocre and frustrating teams at all levels. A master adviser to teams, Diana Smith persuasively shows how those who truly care about performance and relationships can simultaneously nurture both.”
Peter Senge, author, The Fifth Discipline

“A rare book––sensitive in human terms, but also practical and hard-edged.”
Lord Dennis Stevenson, banker, chairman, HBOS, plc

“Smith offers advice that’s applicable to politics, governance, and life itself. An easy read that can really pay off.”
Geraldine A. Ferraro, former member of Congress

“With advice that is both practical and profound, Smith shows us how to bring out the very best in our partners, teammates, and ourselves.”
Michael Wheeler, professor of management practice, Harvard Business School

“Smith has written a masterpiece . . . for all leaders—from business to politics.”
Jonas Gahr Store, minister of foreign affairs, Norway

“An invaluable guide to a domain that’s becoming ever more important, not only in business but across sectors. I wish I had this book when I co-founded City Year twenty years ago.”
Alan Khazei, CEO, Be the Change, and cofounder, City Year

“These days relationships are recognized as business lifeblood and everyone works to improve them, so Diana McLain Smith’s Divide or Conquer: How Great Teams Turn Conflict into Strength is right on the money. She takes you behind the media stories of relationships that made headlines … to illustrate how a broken relationship can cause severe damage not just to the people, but to the company and the brand. Relationships happen, but great relationships take thought and effort. They’ll never be easy, but Divide or Conquer provides the tools and insights to make them easier.
—Leadership Turn.com

“[Smith] does a phenomenal job of breaking down the dynamics, dysfunctions, errors, and blind spots that caused all kinds of turmoil at Apple, ultimately ending in Steve Jobs being removed from his job. … This kind of thing happens all the time in business and personal relationships, and this book seeks to help us understand why and suggests ways to prevent it from happening. Smith provides some great models, examples, and techniques to help you here. More importantly, she provides some tools to help you push the reset button and try to get things on a healthier trajectory. Brilliant stuff, and very practical.”
-Genuine Curiosity.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Diana McLain Smith is a partner at the Monitor Group, a global strategy consulting firm. For nearly three decades, she has advised hundreds of leaders while doing research on leadership, negotiation, and organizational behavior. She has taught at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management and guest lectured at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; 1 edition (May 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591842042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591842040
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,431,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Annie Marks on June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
For anyone who has ever wondered with an element of despair, "will my relationship with my boss/colleague/team member ever change, improve, become less fraught?!" - this is the book for you! This book is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to figure out how to make their most critical relationships at work actually work. What I love about it is that it shows very clearly what can get in the way, and demonstrates how to shift typical ways of interacting. It is both practical and provides a framework for thinking.
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Format: Hardcover
There's good theory in business and there's good practice in business. All too rarely can one find them both in the same book. Divide or Conquer proves that there is an exception to the rule. The author, one of the world's most experienced leadership practitioners, is also a genuinely creative thinker. In this book she tackles one of the great undiscussed realities of business: the central role of individual relationships in making things happen -- how to think about them deeply and how to manage them effectively. This book is the real deal.
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Format: Hardcover
What a valuable book! With some fascinating vignettes (Apple's Scully and Jobs is one example), one understands how key relationships can make or break a company. Then you learn how to actually affect those relationships to ensure a company's success. This book will teach you how to improve all your important relationships. You'll learn to get curious about why someone might react a certain way, slow down the interactions, and find out why by having a productive conversation. The relationship transforms--people learn to care about and trust each other. They learn to find out what's going on instead of acting upon their own assumptions, which are usually wrong and often unconscious. I've already seen this start to happen in some of my own relationships with colleagues and family members, thanks to Smith's amazing insight, research and wisdom.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first got this book on hand, there was only one review in the Amazon.com. And when I finished the book, and wanting to write my comment on it, it already goes to nine (reviews)! And this is only one month's time. And I must say the responds to this book haven't surprised me. It deserves a full-hall stand-up applause.

I have heard about Smith's name for quite a while, mainly from the field of organizational learning, which her mentors Chris Argyris and Donald Schön are both big names in that field. Since I am a big fans to Argyris and Schön's work, and since I live from quite a remoted place (another side of the globe), the easiest and the most accessable way to know about these masters' work is through their writings. However, Argyris and Schön's work is never easy to penetrate, frustrated but not deterred by the difficulty, I started to chase after their disciples' work, which includes Roger Schwarz, Peter Block and etc, all are very good works indeed. Nevertheless, no one previous work is quite like Smith's new book.

Though there were so many writings written on Argyrian intervention. The sad thing, however, is, there's a group of very VERY good consultants at Action Design (google it, please), which by now they are the one whom most live-up to Arygris and Schön's spirit, they rarely write. Maybe because the work is so embedded in actions, and maybe they knew clearly that it is never easy to convey the practice on paper.

And at one time, I stumbled on Diana's "A Reflection on Donald Schön" (after the death of Donald Schön), it was such a poetic piece, and indeed very beautifully written. And at that time, I was waiting for her work, really on her own, to get published.
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Format: Hardcover
This smart, perceptive and original book is truly a "must read". Diana McLain Smith has written a book that explains how to make -- and remake -- relationships that thrive. This book redefines relationships as the key leverage point in organizations. Most books that offer this level of business sophistication are best appreciated by the traditional business audience. Divide or Conquer has crossover written all over it. Read it and see.
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Format: Hardcover
Diana Smith is a brilliant student of interpersonal, team, and leadership dynamics. In this book, she shares the secrets that have allowed her to intervene successfully with teams and leaders for decades. Her explanations are clear and practical, and her illustrations vivid and enjoyable. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book from a practical standpoint makes sense. It focuses entirely on why conflicts arise and that is "its all about the relationship". So this book academically takes relationships, case studies of relationships, and breaks them down. It then uses simulations and communication techniques that I have seen used in other conflict resolution resources, such as: getting both parties to have empathy for each other, make both parties role-play as the other person in the conflict, use different verbiage to express yourself during conflicts, ensure the timing is correct when issues are to be addressed. The book does go deeper into this by basically diagramming relationships and the behavior/interactions that occurs between them. It then changes the diagrams to reflect changes in the interactions. Now this is all good stuff to me. However, most of the case studies on "conflict resolution" are approached by the perspective of "if a third party intervened and did X,Y, and Z.... things would be fixed". Unfortunately, I was looking for something that would help two people work out differences, not have to constantly rely on others. Also, most of the case studies are based on all management vs other management, or execs vs execs, or people in high power spots vs others in high power spots. I didnt get much out of it in regards to leading a small group of highly intelligent individuals all with ivy league degrees, trying to outshine everyone on their team including managers, etc.

HOWEVER, I am a person who leads by example. Vince Lombardi once said, "Leading by Example is not the best way to lead...it's the only way". Not that's an extreme case, but leading by example can be 50% of the conflict resolution if you are involved in one.
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