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The Responsibility Virus Hardcover – October 2, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 15 ratings

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From Publishers Weekly

A magazine CEO clashes with his v-p of sales over lagging ad sales. Two married attorneys each try to get the upper hand while house-hunting. A team of managers, intending to collaborate, winds up competing with each other. These are just some of the power struggles Martin, dean of the University of Toronto's business school, presents in this personal and professional self-help book. Both overachieving and underachieving execs will recognize themselves and their colleagues in Martin's realistic, well-sketched (pseudonymous) conflicts, in which ego and fear of failure are presented as major roadblocks to group consensus. His 15 years of consulting experience serve him well, especially when he demonstrates, with specific examples, how most poor decision-making begins at the level of individual behavior. Figures and diagrams abound, likening portions of the book to a Power Point presentation, albeit a useful one. For example, the "Responsibility Ladder" shows the levels of responsibility to which most people gravitate in most situations. At the lowest rung of the ladder, one set of problems is created when folks who fear failure drop difficult projects on other people's desks. Martin is quick to point out, however, that organizational problems can arise at the top of the ladder, too, when managers who seek control "consider options and make [a] decision, informing other [parties] subsequently." Martin wrote this book "to help people avoid the natural predisposition to screw up the handling of responsibility in ways that undermine their goals and well-being," and he succeeds. His examples and nuggets of advice are on-target and entertaining.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Dean of the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto, Roger Martin was for fifteen years a consultant with the Monitor Company, where in addition to his client work on behalf of some of the world's top corporations he served as co-head for two years and was the founding chairman of Monitor University, the firm's educational arm. In addition to publishing in the Harvard Business Review, Time, and other periodicals, Martin has worked with Harvard Business School colleagues such as Michael Porter, Chris Argyris, and Michael Jensen. He has also been profiled in periodicals such as the Financial Times, the Globe and Mail, and Fast Company. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Basic Books; 1st edition (October 2, 2002)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0465044107
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0465044108
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.3 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.25 x 1 x 9.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 15 ratings

About the author

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I am an author and strategy advisor to CEOs. My passion is an helping businesspeople use more effective models to guide their actions. I've looked, for example, for common patterns in the way successful leaders tackle difficult 'either/or' dilemmas. I've explored how it is that corporations drive out innovation - even as they desperately seek it. I've examined the way in which theories that are meant to help corporations achieve financial goals and make shareholders rich actually produce the opposite. In each of my books, I diagnose the manner in which our thinking gets in our own way, and provide specific advice for overcoming that challenge.

Check out my books to the left and visit my website ( if you want to see more of my writing.

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