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The Right Fight: How Great Leaders Use Healthy Conflict to Drive Performance, Innovation, and Value Hardcover – 15 Feb 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1 edition (15 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780061717161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061717161
  • ASIN: 0061717169
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,473,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“A convincing and counterintuitive argument that instigating dissent, if done selectively, can produce big results.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Joni and Beyer…present valuable, thought-provoking ideas” (Booklist)

“Anybody in any organization who has any responsibility must read this book.” (—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California and author of On Becoming a Leader)

“Provocative and unique…The Right Fight illustrates how a healthy dose of tension energized some of the world’s most respected companies. It worked at Campbell.” (—Douglas R. Conant, President and CEO, Campbell Soup Company)

“Managing tension and conflicting ideas is but part of the equation. Using them to steer the organization toward success is the other part, which is often overlooked. In The Right Fight, Saj-Nicole Joni and Damon Beyer show us how to use conflict the right way!” (—Marshall Goldsmith is the NYT bestselling author of Succession: Are You Ready? and What Got You Here Won't Get You There )

“Tensions are the road to competitiveness, while consensus often leads to mediocrity. Saj-nicole, the nicest person on earth got it right - encouraging the right fight is the hallmark of true leadership. Great ideas are born from competition, and thrive when subjected to survival of the fittest.” (—Rolf Classon, Chairman, Hill-Rom, and former CEO, Bayer Healthcare)

“If you care about how well organizations work, you need to buy this book, get out a highlighter, and mark up the pages. It will change the way you think about teams and how they’re run. And it will raise your collective performance and sense of satisfaction.” (—Bridgette Heller, Global President, Johnson and Johnson Consumer Companies)

“The authors have absolutely nailed one of the critical unspoken tools in the leadership tool kit. The book helped me reflect on the right and wrong fights of the past and begin planning my next one!” (—Gaurdie E. Banister Jr., President and CEO, Aera Energy LLC)

“If you’re a leader at any level, The Right Fight will inspire you to embrace organizational tensions, and in so doing, release the energies needed to solve your most complex problems. This is one of the most practical business books I’ve read and I recommend it highly.” (—Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO, Acumen Fund, and author, The Blue Sweater)

“The wisdom runs deep and the stories jump off the page. Joni and Beyer show us why alignment is not enough. Fighting the right fights right can be the difference between survival and extinction. This book should be at the top of any leaders reading list.” (—Doug Stone, coauthor of NYT bestseller Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most)

From the Back Cover

Organizational harmony and strategic alignment aren't enough to drive success.

Until now, management wisdom would have you believe that the single most important thing leaders have to get right is alignment. To accomplish anything, employees must agree about the mission, strategy, and goals of an organization. Aligned employees are happy employees, and happy employees are productive employees. Simple, right?

Well, in a word, no. Counter to conventional wisdom, the dirty little secret of leadership—what they don't tell you in business school—is that a leader's time is not always best spent trying to help his or her teams make nice and get along. In contrast, the authors' groundbreaking research shows that fostering productive dissent is essential for achieving peak efficiency—what Joni and Beyer call "right fights."

Right fights need to be well designed and subject to certain rules to be effective. Alignment cannot be ignored; without it, organizations can be plagued with bitter, energy-draining wrong fights. But a certain amount of healthy struggle is good for organizations. Right fights unleash the creative, productive potential of teams, organizations, and communities.

The Right Fight turns management thinking on its head and shows why leaders—in the fast-moving, hyper-competitive marketplaces of the twenty-first century—need to foster alignment and orchestrate thoughtful controversy in their organizations to get the best results. Drawing from examples as diverse as Unilever, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Dell, the Clinton administration, and the Katy Independent School System, here is your playbook for picking the right battles and fighting the right fights well.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
As I read he Introduction to this book, I was reminded of two observations by Peter Drucker and one by Michael Porter. First Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all" and "The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong question." Now Porter: "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. " Especially given the current and imminent global economy, it is imperative for business leaders to keep these observations in mind when deciding what to do...and what not to do. This is what Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer seem to have in mind when asserting that "if you want to succeed in an age of ever-increasing complexity, you have to establish clear vision, set strategy, and build alignment. Then you need to systematically orchestrate right fights - and fight them right."

They recommend six "Right Fight Principles" to guide and inform decisions made and devote a separate chapter to each - explaining HOW to apply the principles by citing teal-world examples -- in Parts Two and Three, once they have established (in Part One) a context, a frame-of-reference, for them by explaining how and why leaders "must introduce and manage right fights to achieve their strategic objectives. More specifically, to create breakthrough performance, meaningful innovation, and lasting values" and to "use tension for maximum benefits" while recognizing ("decoding") and then avoiding "all kinds of wrong fights." Then in Part Four, they provide tests for identifying and leading right fights as well as an "eye-opening" assessment tool for teams, "The Reverse Fishbowl.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not all tensions are productive and of course, not all fights are worth fighting, and that is precisely where 'The Right Fight - -how great leaders use healthy conflict to drive performance, innovation and value', comes in.

The book will be really useful for all those wanting to instigate change in their organisation or needing to fight for what they believe in. It will also be of interest to assess the challenges we come across in life.

The Right Fight is full of case studies - and I am glad to say that those mentioned in the s + b article are not all included, making the article an interesting complement to the work of Saj-Nicole Joni and Damon Beyer, and not just a summary of the book. Some of the case studies are inspirational stories of success, where individuals and teams have turned around organisations. Others can serve as warnings - when individuals have not been able to see beyond their own points of view and egos.

What struck me most about the case studies, was the range of organisations and projects featured: from usual suspects such as Dell and General Electric, through the Acumen Fund and the Oval Office, to The Lion King Broadway show. And in case the reader has difficulty in relating to the leaders at the top of their game, the authors end the first part of the book with the story of Jack, a middle manager, a story which "takes into account the human side of what it requires to engage in right fights".

The book begins with examples of fights not worth fighting for and of "right fights fought wrong". The learning points from the case studies go right to the heart of leadership.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The power of enlightened and principled advocacy 18 Feb. 2010
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As I read the Introduction to this book, I was reminded of two observations by Peter Drucker and one by Michael Porter. First Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all" and "The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong question." Now Porter: "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. " Especially given the current and imminent global economy, it is imperative for business leaders to keep these observations in mind when deciding what to do...and what not to do. This is what Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer seem to have in mind when asserting that "if you want to succeed in an age of ever-increasing complexity, you have to establish clear vision, set strategy, and build alignment. Then you need to systematically orchestrate right fights - and fight them right."

They recommend six "Right Fight Principles" to guide and inform decisions made and devote a separate chapter to each - explaining HOW to apply the principles by citing real-world examples -- in Parts Two and Three, once they have established (in Part One) a context, a frame-of-reference, for them by explaining how and why leaders "must introduce and manage right fights to achieve their strategic objectives. More specifically, to create breakthrough performance, meaningful innovation, and lasting values" and to "use tension for maximum benefits" while recognizing ("decoding") and then avoiding "all kinds of wrong fights." Then in Part Four, they provide tests for identifying and leading right fights as well as an "eye-opening" assessment tool for teams, "The Reverse Fishbowl."

It may seem simplistic to affirm the importance of "fighting" what should be fought and "fighting" it right but, in fact, there are several important issues to consider once a decision has been made to engage in "battle." For example, terms of engagement such as when and where, allocation of resources, and contingency planning (with or without use of scenaria). Even when in full compliance with the "Right Fight Principles" that Joni and Beyer advocate, preparations for any significant engagement must be flexible, taking into full account whatever adjustments may need to be made. While serving as the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), General Dwight Eisenhower is reported to have observed, "Plans are nothing; planning is everything."

Credit Joni and Beyer with providing a wealth of evidence-driven insights and sound counsel that can be of substantial value to decision-makers in organizations that now struggle to increase and improve performance, innovation, and value. It would be a fool's errand to attempt to apply all of their suggestions and recommendations. Rather, each reader must read and then re-read this book with great care, then select whatever material is most appropriate to her needs and interests, and, to achieving the strategic objectives of her or his organization. That said, I do presume to suggest that the six "Right Fight Principles" are eminently suitable for guiding and informing efforts to overcome the inevitable challenges, and resolve the inevitable complications during the process of planning and then implementing the initiatives to achieve those objectives.

Although I have not as yet found anything specific in Joseph Schumpeter's books and articles that says so, I assume he realized that creative tension is a prerequisite to creative destruction. The right fights that must be fought internally cannot be fought right without clarity, courage, and candor within a culture of transparency. Only then can the right external fights be fought right...and won.
The power of enlightened and principled advocacy

As I read he Introduction to this book, I was reminded of two observations by Peter Drucker and one by Michael Porter. First Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all" and "The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong question." Now Porter: "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. " Especially given the current and imminent global economy, it is imperative for business leaders to keep these observations in mind when deciding what to do...and what not to do. This is what Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer seem to have in mind when asserting that "if you want to succeed in an age of ever-increasing complexity, you have to establish clear vision, set strategy, and build alignment. Then you need to systematically orchestrate right fights - and fight them right."

They recommend six "Right Fight Principles" to guide and inform decisions made and devote a separate chapter to each - explaining HOW to apply the principles by citing teal-world examples -- in Parts Two and Three, once they have established (in Part One) a context, a frame-of-reference, for them by explaining how and why leaders "must introduce and manage right fights to achieve their strategic objectives. More specifically, to create breakthrough performance, meaningful innovation, and lasting values" and to "use tension for maximum benefits" while recognizing ("decoding") and then avoiding "all kinds of wrong fights." Then in Part Four, they provide tests for identifying and leading right fights as well as an "eye-opening" assessment tool for teams, "The Reverse Fishbowl."

It may seem simplistic to affirm the importance of "fighting" what should be fought and "fighting" it right but, in fact, there are several important issues to consider once a decision has been made to engage in "battle." For example, terms of engagement such as when and where, allocation of resources, and contingency planning (with or without use of scenaria). Even when in full compliance with the "Right Fight Principles" that Joni and Beyer advocate, preparations for any significant engagement must be flexible, taking into full account whatever adjustments may need to be made. While serving as the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), General Dwight Eisenhower is reported to have observed, "Plans are nothing; planning is everything."

Credit Joni and Beyer with providing a wealth of evidence-driven insights and sound counsel that can be of substantial value to decision-makers in organizations that now struggle to increase and improve performance, innovation, and value. It would be a fool's errand to attempt to apply all of their suggestions and recommendations. Rather, each reader must read and then re-read this book with great care, then select whatever material is most appropriate to her needs and interests, and, to achieving the strategic objectives of her or his organization. That said, I do presume to suggest that the six "Right Fight Principles" are eminently suitable for guiding and informing efforts to overcome the inevitable challenges, and resolve the inevitable complications during the process of planning and then implementing the initiatives to achieve those objectives.

Although I have not as yet found anything specific in Joseph Schumpeter's books and articles that says so, I assume he realized that creative tension is a prerequisite to creative destruction. The right fights that must be fought internally cannot be fought right without clarity, courage, and candor within a culture of transparency. Only then can the right external fights be fought right...and won.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Important for everyone to read! 9 Feb. 2010
By Jacqueline Novogratz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Right Fight should be required reading for every leader of an organization. Saj-Nicole Joni brings deep insight into the importance of focusing on the real issues with a sense of urgency. When change is at stake, people often become uncomfortable, and rather than confront the heart of the issue, will quarrel over petty grievances. In organizations with a more confrontation-averse culture, important discussions are avoided in order to be "nice" to colleagues (or just politically loyal). As a result, we often miss the point of why we come to work each day which is to make real things happen for the world. In this sense, according to Joni, Right Fights are critical to our very survival as organizations, as communities, as full human beings. I have found the language and frameworks of Right Fights to be very useful in my own organization and cannot recommend it highly enough.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Right Question 5 Feb. 2010
By Margaret Heffernan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As you'd expect from Joni, she asks fantastic questions. Are we having the right fight? should be asked in every boardroom, every meeting room, and at every water cooler. You could also ask yourself: are we having enough fights? Are we fighting them the right way? This book will provoke a great deal of excellent thinking and probably a lot of fighting - of the best possible kind. What I especially liked about it was the insight that conflict can be good, not for its own sake, but for the truths which it teases out. Probably the single worst thing most businesses do is suppress conflict; with this book, they might have more courage to be better informed. It's a quick, easy read that will leave you better equipped to find out what is going on in your business or department and with far better ideas about what to do about them.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Complexity requires we fight the right fights right 3 Feb. 2010
By Loren G. Carlson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
CEOs need this book. We don't need more simplistic five point formulas. Chapter 3, "Jack Sparr Takes on a Right Fight", resonated with me because it captured a sense of the complexity we must deal with when no solutions are "right" and we must force our teams to move out of their comfort zones and compete with each other to find a truly new solution and not a compromise.

I am reminded of all the wasted energy I saw (and contributed to) at AT&T while we were planning and implementing the massive divestiture and reorganization of the Bell System. There were many fights that needed to be fought for the good of all but the energy that went into the wrong fights sapped the strength of the organization and in the end made it impossible to succeed in the new world we helped to create.

Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer have done a good job showing us the obvious need to fight the right fights is a very difficult leadership challenge. We need to always be asking ourselves is this a fight worth fighting (and how do I know)? But selecting the right fights isn't enough. You must also fight the right fights right. Fighting the right fights wrong can be more destructive than fighting the wrong fights.

One of the most important lessons that Joni and Beyer present from their research is the critical role outsiders can play in suggesting ways to 'change the picture' and look at problems from a new place. And, the critical role that your gut plays in helping you know when you need to change the picture.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Must-Read for Mission Driven Leaders 12 Feb. 2010
By J. Fitzpatrick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A valuable tool for non-profit, philanthropy and other mission-driven leaders searching for better tools to help decide which battles are worth fighting. Beyer/Joni's practical, real-life examples can be applied to any organization. Most mission-driven leaders tend to avoid conflict. Helpful to me as a leader to learn the perils of avoiding internal tension and how to have productive conflict as part of your culture.
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