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Leading on the Edge of Chaos: The 10 Critical Elements for Success in Volatile Times Hardcover – May 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
This management leadership primer aspires to help executives launch effective responses to crisis and transform threats into opportunity for growth and progress. Such strategies are sorely needed in today's post September 11, post-Enron business environment. Unfortunately, management consultants Emmett Murphy (Leadership IQ) and Mark Murphy break little new ground. Their axioms for success, including make haste slowly, partner with customers and maximize knowledge assets, are not revolutionary. Within each chapter, leaders from venerable companies, among them Southwest Airlines and DuPont, talk about how they manage in turbulent times, although few of the challenges they describe could truly be described as chaotic. Business executives want and need to learn how to handle massive layoffs, loss of client confidence and a host of risks. But what they get here is a description of how IBM got its Web-based applications teams to work faster, a profile of the Federal Express in-house management development program and a lesson in how Cisco streamlined its procurement processes. An exception is the epilogue, which discusses the leadership of Rudy Giuliani and others who faced serious disasters. There is a helpful appendix: a thoughtful, 20-question, multiple choice quiz that assesses hiring practices, employee morale, customer care and organizational flexibility. Executives could use this tool to assess how they and their companies might fare confronting a wide range of challenges.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
According to this work, the new economy is characterized by chaos and volatility, and today's business environment is defined by wild swings "in fortune, in expectations for the future, in estimates of risk, in scientific and technological progress, in feelings of optimism, and [in] our sense of security." The authors are well qualified to examine how leaders can achieve success in turbulent times. Emmett Murphy penned the best-selling Leadership IQ and The Genius of Sitting Bull and is senior fellow and chair of the Murphy Leadership Institute, where Mark Murphy serves as president and CEO. In 1986, the authors initiated a research project to identify what characterizes the world's most successful, or "benchmark," leaders. In the aftereffects of September 11, the authors reviewed their benchmark leaders and identified new ones, concentrating on those who had achieved success despite economic volatility. Drawing on their study of these leaders, the authors describe how to succeed in today's economy. The steps they cite include "make haste slowly," or move with greater speed and precision, and "turbocharge" your thinking; partner with customers to ensure their satisfaction and their retention; build a culture of commitment; maximize knowledge assets; and out-position the competition. Case studies are drawn from organizations that include the U.S. Mint, IBM, Delphi Automotive Systems Corporation, and Sunbeam. The epilog, "When Bad Things Happen to Good Corporations," provides guidelines for what leaders can do to respond to a crisis. Additionally, the authors provide a Volatility Leadership Assessment that allows readers to measure their personal and organizational leadership performance. Bibliographic references are presented for each chapter. This timely and important work is recommended primarily for academic libraries. Lucy Heckman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
This book is also fresh-the authors address Enron and 9/11, and give us insight into executives from companies like IBM, Nike, Wal-Mart, Solectron, Cisco, Yahoo, EMC, Campbell's Soup and dozens more.
One truly refreshing and unique aspect of this book is that it's based on an study of 18,000 leaders; not hearsay or opinions. The authors bring you inside the minds of this economy's best executives and show the strategies they use to turn chaos into competitive advantage. And not only do they give you the rules to follow, they show you how to implement them. There's even a test in the back to measure your leadership readiness.
The 10 rules they provide (taken from the book)...
1. Make Haste Slowly. To survive in this volatile economy, leaders must move with greater speed and precision than ever before. This "need for speed," however, does not mean that leaders should act without first taking time to think. In fact, just the opposite is true-if ever there was an economy that punishes sloppy thinking, this is it.
2. Partner with customers. In times like these, many leaders become insular, ignoring customer partnerships to focus solely on internal operational challenges. As a result, they disconnect themselves from the best source of current revenue and future success.
3. Build a culture of commitment. Times of volatility will stress a culture to its limits. But if you can build a culture of commitment, one where employees passionately pursue the organization's mission, you can emerge not only intact, but better positioned for success.
4. Put the right person, in the right place, right now. Exceptional leaders know they will have to assemble and align the right collection of talent to face the challenges that lie ahead.
5. Maximize knowledge assets. In a knowledge economy, an organization's ability to harness and maximize information plays the dominant role in creating competitive advantage.
6. Cut costs, not value. In a turbulent economic environment, any company can experience lowered earnings and overall weakened financial health. There's no shame in having to cut costs, but there is grave danger in doing it incorrectly.
7. Outposition your competitors. In a rapidly changing business environment, competition intensifies for an often elusive and sometimes shrinking market. Success goes to those who can understand and develop sources of competitive advantage.
8. Stir, don't shake. Successful leaders understand that the stress of living in chaotic times can cause an organizational panic attack that can stop progress in its tracks. They reduce anxiety and inspire hope by stirring employees to higher levels of achievement, not shaking them with negativity and fear.
9. Cut through the noise. Benchmark leaders understand that chaos and "noise" rise in tandem with volatility, undermining a leader's ability to communicate. Without the ability to communicate effectively, a leader's other skills are worthless.
10. Focus or fail. To manage all the challenges that emerge in volatile times, leaders need a blueprint for action. Highly effective leaders follow a carefully structured process that focuses their energies and prioritizes opportunities for success.
11. Epilogue: When Bad Things Happen To Good Corporations. Even for great leaders and their companies, crisis is sometimes inescapable. The Epilogue provides a process for understanding, planning for, and adapting to crisis, including the special threat of terrorism.
The book outlines common-sense rules for suceeding during volatile times, but sadly common sense is often lacking in the real world. The authors describe strategies for creating organizations with committed cultures, partnering with customers, practical problem-solving and effective communication. The authors use of case studies from very different types of companies, from FedEx to non-profit hospitals, effectively illustrates how principles from this book can be applied to any organization.
Following the principles in this book would help to create a more effective organization and a more positive work life for both managers and staff.