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Workarounds That Work: How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work Hardcover – January 5, 2011
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About the Author
Russell Bishop is an internationally regarded speaker, educator, coach and consultant. His corporate clients include Fortune 500 executives in aerospace, healthcare, information technology, and telecommunications. He is also an editor and frequent columnist for the Living section of The Huffington Post. A recognized expert in personal and organization transformation, Russell has coached thousands of individuals around the world, helping them to create balance and success in their personal and professional lives. Today, Russell is the founder and President of Bishop & Bishop, a consulting and coaching company whose seminars, coaching, and consulting offer individuals and organizations a new approach to integrating values into their personal and professional lives. He has lectured on productivity for the executive MBA programs at UCLA, University of Texas and Washington University in St. Louis.
Top customer reviews
I often say that the last of the five greatest generators of waste in our modern working world - the interpretation that we are doomed to a kind of indentured servitude called `work' - is the nastiest and most destructive of the sources of waste in our working lives. `Thank God it's Friday' - the announcement that we toil away five days of every week just waiting for a brief respite of freedom and meaning each weekend - is our declaration that we consider 5/7ths of our lives wasted. A tragedy.
Russell's book is an antidote to work as toil, and full of good things.
The book then goes on to present seventeen workarounds ranging from vision, to communication, accountability and culture to name a few. Each workaround has three basics. The first being the intention, the second is around assuming control of what you can, and last but not least influencing the remaining elements. The questions included at the end of each workaround/chapter, guide the reader to the application of the material presented. This makes this work very pragmatic and applicable. A quick and educative read in the productivity space.
Below are key excerpts from the book, that I found particularly insightful:
1- "This is where three workaround basics become operative. The first and most important issue: what is your intention? The second critical aspect is your willingness to assume control of whatever you can that will move you forward. Once you are clear on your intention and have taken control of what you can, you then face the third element: how to influence others to go along."
2- "If you need to get someone on your side, working with you rather than against you, start by considering what the other party is charged with doing in his or her job, and then begin imagining how that person can win with helping you."
3- "Workarounds can vary from the rudimentary and tactical to the complex and strategic. Even at the most basic levels, it's important to keep in mind what your intention is in coming up with the workaround. Determining what the issue is and why it matters needs to come before charting what you can do and how you make it happen."
4- "Start any "communication" with a discussion about your individual perceptions of the intended purpose, outcome, and goal. Make certain that both of you can explain the desired outcome in terms that the other can both repeat and visualize."
5- "Once you have asked yourself the basic starting question - "What can I do that will make a difference?" - and asked the other party if there's anything else you can do, you can then turn the question toward what the other party could conceive of doing to make the situation even better."
6- "Rather than treating the other person, team, or group as your enemy combatant, you will gain better purchase by following Larry Senn's advice and assuming innocence. In all likelihood, these parties are making choices based on differences in understanding owning to causes such as different goals or differences in how they are being measured."
7- "Rather than assume that some other group will behave the way your group behaves, you should assume that there may be differences and plan accordingly."
8- "The real goal of decision making, what we are calling "choice" here, is not about being right; it's about being effective. If you can choose toward a desired outcome rather than kill off all other possibilities, you may then have the freedom to learn, to course correct, and to keep making progress as new data and experience are acquired."
9- "Remember: it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to get permission. If you keep asking for permission and seeking buy-in, you may merely be giving people reasons to object."
10- "Keep in mind that your primary response-ability comes down to your willingness to control what you can, seek to influence from there, and then simply respond as best as you can to everything else. People routinely lose sight of where they are headed, of what their true intentions are."
Why only 3 stars? The last half of the book seems to be filler. Much of it is re-hashing of other ideas, and sometimes barely relevant to the topic of workarounds. A perfect example is the section on e-mail and e-mail etiquette. It is mainly a re-hashing of Tony Schwartz' ideas. The author credits Schwartz, but putting in a couple pages recapping a book on e-mail seemed pointless. Also, if you have read "Getting Things Done" and similar books, you will find the same ideas in here.
Maybe it would have been better if I had the book on hard copy where I find it easier to flip through the filler sections, but I found the last half of the book to be very frustrating. By time I plowed through it begrudgingly over a couple weeks, I had to go back to my earlier highlights to remember what I had originally liked about it.
So, if your expectations are to get some good advice on workarounds in an organization, go for it, and use it more as a study guide or reference. As a book, however, the last half is a chore to get through.
In this well-written new book, business consultant and Huffington Post columnist Russell Bishop gives good, practical advice for workers who are wondering what they can do to get around, over, or through a roadblock.
One of his most important pieces of advice, interestingly, is to hold yourself accountable for solving the problem. He doesn't want you to blame yourself but to take responsibility. If you own the goal, he says, you can own the process for reaching the goal and solving the problem.
"When part of the strategy is influencing someone else to think or act differently," Bishop writes, "if we simply wait for someone else to figure it out and do the right thing, we may make little progress." Instead, "if you're the one who notices, then you're the one who is going to have to take the first steps to get something going."
Thoughtful and highly recommended.