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The Journey of Not Knowing: How 21st Century Leaders Can Chart a Course Where There Is None Paperback – September 14, 2016
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From Kirkus Reviews
Benezet offers a management handbook geared toward the unconventional in the modern business world.
In her nonfiction debut, Benezet, a consultant and executive coach, takes an unusual approach to laying out a broad selection of business-manual maxims about flexible thinking, team building, and workplace productivity. A great portion of her book takes the form of stories about a fictional company called “Arrow, Inc.,” its bosses, and its employees. Her main topic is mapping the ways that individual behaviors and complex interactions can create blind spots and unanticipated “box canyons.” After an opening section, in which Benezet very amusingly tells some anecdotes from her years as a manager at Amazon.com, she addresses the problems that Arrow employees face in dealing with a particularly important client. It’s a risky tactic, as it shifts much of the book’s performance from the author’s skill at distilling business-world lessons from her own extensive experience to her talent for writing fiction. But it’s a choice that largely works, and readers will likely be interested in the Arrow workplace adventures. However, business students, who likely make up a significant part of the book’s target audience, may find the concluding sections more to their liking, as they revert to more standard management-handbook exposition. In those parts, Benezet makes crystalline sense; for example, she writes relatively early on that it’s more important than ever for managers to know themselves—to know, as she puts it, “who you are and for what you stand” in a world of shifting expectations and constantly looming unknowns. This idea is related to the “core drivers” of her book, concentrated in the “Core Four” components (“Bigger Bets,” “The Risks of the Unknown,” “Hooks,” and “Drivers”) that deal with “the relationship between leadership and the unknown,” which she explains in a later section. In her explorations of these components, Benezet is at her most authoritative.
A largely involving story-oriented breakdown of how to chart a steady managerial course in uncharted territory. - Kirkus Reviews
Benezet shows very simply how we become trapped by our hooks into endless dreary cycles of limitation, and how we can liberate ourselves into the vast opportunities that await when we risk stepping beyond the known." - Susan Cannon, PhD, co-author of The Way of the Mysterial Woman: Upgrading How You Live, Love, and Lead
"A fun read that takes lessons from Amazon's early days and uses a fictional business story to teach us how to be better leaders and teammates. Benezet does a wonderful job in focusing us on the unknowns literally right in front of us-our teams and ourselves. A page-turner that doesn't rely on murder or explosions, at least not literally!" -Asuka Nakahara, Associate Director of the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton
"Benezet captures the spirit of a real leader . . . one who has the courage to take on the unknown with a balance of analytical brilliance and drive for making things better when there is no roadmap. " -- Gail Ayers, PhD, CEO CREW Network
"Through the vehicle of a well-crafted and entertaining story, The Journey of Not Knowing provides a great teaching tool for both established and emerging leaders. The book skillfully raises awareness of how defensive behaviors against the unknown can get in the way of their success as leaders, and how they might overcome them to achieve strategic results. The lessons are reinforced by a story from the author's experiences as an early Amazon executive and a primer of the Journey principles that follows the story. I highly recommend this great read." -- Patricia Langer, EVP, Human Resources at NBC Universal, Inc.
"The Journey of Not Knowingcombines the many years of business world experience of its author with astute observation of human behavior. Usinga story format to describe familiar and widespread defensive organizational behaviors, Benezet intimatelydescribes the evolution of a leadership team from resistance to engagement in order tosolve a critical business problem. The Journey model included at the back of the bookexplains how they got there. The book is fresh, fun and inspiring." --Cindy Aden, Librarian, Former Amazonian and current Washington State Librarian
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Top customer reviews
The reader is provided with a practical guide for recognizing, understanding, and addressing one's personal "hooks" and understanding others. The concept is fully explored through an entertaining fictional business story used to teach us how to be better leaders and teammates.
'The Journey of Not Knowing' is an insightful and fun read. Highly recommended!
From the descriptions of conflict avoidance, passive aggression, and codependence it sounds like employees have just not had a chance to become emotionally mature.
I don't know why the author has to make up ambiguous words such as "hooks". Defense would've worked better. For writer, a hook is a seductive headline. If I hadn't been asked to review this book by book publicist I would've left it on the (virtual) shelf.
The Journey of Not Knowing model (that forms the foundation for both this book and its aligned leadership development program) has four components that revolve around the relationship between leadership and the unknown:
1. Bigger Bets: Strategic new ideas that lie in the unknown and propel you to create a stronger, more successful organization.
2. The Risks of the Unknown: The risks you encounter when you move into the unfamiliar world of the unknown to pursue bigger bets.
3. Hooks: Defensive behaviors that give you short-term relief from the discomfort of the risks of the unknown, but will prevent you from reaching your bigger bets.
4. Drivers: Your personal motivators that provide fuel to move you through the discomfort from the risks of the unknown toward achieving your bigger bets.
The heart and soul of this book is an extensive case study of a fictional company which reads like a business version of the show “24” in which all the action takes place in one day. And there is plenty of action! Populated with realistic characters and business challenges, the author show us in real time how each person struggles with the uncertainty, complexity and risks inherent in their work as leaders. In particular, we see how each person inevitably is pushed into using their preferred way of protecting themselves from various fears of loss (of their self-respect, reputation, control, and even their job/career) and how these “defensive” behaviors always carry with them an upside value (protection from feared outcomes) as well as less obvious but very significant risks. The biggest risk of over-use of these defensive routines is that they can jeopardize the very success of the “bigger bets” you are trying to make in order for your business to succeed.
By bringing to life the human drama of real people doing real business in a high stakes corporate environment, the author helps us to take a pause and reflect on our own patterns and default ways of dealing with the uncertainty, complexity and risks in our own work lives. The insights gained can provide us with opportunities to move beyond the use of strategies that limit our ultimate effectiveness and success even as they protect us.
This book deserves to occupy high-value real estate on a bookshelf with other writers who attempt to shed light on the human drama of living and doing business in a complex and often unpredictable uncontrollable world such as
Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ronald Heifetz
Organizational Traps: Leadership, Culture, Organizational Design by Chris Argyris
The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action by Donald Schon
What distinguishes The Journey of Not Knowing from its bookshelf neighbors is the author’s important discussion of what she refers to as “drivers”, which she defines as “the highly individualized purposes that propel you into the future, feeding your appetite to build something and to lead people there, no matter what it takes. To navigate through the discomfort caused by the unknown, leaders need a goal or broader purpose to motivate them to push forward.” The special value of the author’s discussion of these drivers is that it takes the book beyond a mere cataloguing of our human foibles and struggles at work, and provides us with the rocket fuel that can engage and elevate us into the bigger better strategic push toward ultimate business success.
The author Julie Benezet frames her own main driver as follows:
"When I thought about the core driver that provided the most fuel during my years as a leader, I finally realized that what drove me was the strong desire to 'count'. Needing to count gave me the fuel to pursue many different adventures, often in entrepreneurial settings, either as a lawyer, executive, or executive advisor. In my executive role at Amazon, needing to count carried me through many trying times."
By providing a deep dive into the real human challenges of leadership in a complex and uncertain world, as well as robust strategies and solutions for meeting those challenges, The Journey of Not Knowing is indeed a book that “counts”.
--- Baird Brightman PhD @ Worklife Strategies [...]
Anne DeVoe Lawler
Managing Member, JBSL
Most recent customer reviews
The Journey of Not Knowing
The Journey of Not Knowing is a book that spans disciplines. Ms.Read more