For me, this book was 1 star. For others, particularly those junior in the business world, it might be a 5 star.
As an experienced corporate professional on Wall Street with a mix of technical background, selling skills and leadership responsibilities, I found that all the points made in the book I already knew. I'm not suggesting I know everything, clearly I don't which is why I purchased the book to see if I could learn anything substantive. It turns out that the points made weren't detailed enough and were too vague to be of use for someone who has survived successfully so long in the corporate world already.
However, to be fair, as I was reading the book, I felt that the points made were good aggregate summaries of overall approach to surviving the workforce, and would have been particularly helpful to me in my earlier years. As I read the book, I felt myself constantly conjuring up images and names of people I have come across that fit into some of the personality types and the descriptions were fairly accurate in terms of success profiles and "what not to do". In spite of that though, neither of the sections went into enough detail to be truly actionable.
In addition, I didn't feel that the author had a substantial corporate world experience. The author admits job hopping quite a bit and didn't stay at each job for long. Perhaps 1-2 years max at each job, although I can't remember if that was specifically stated. The point is, how can one be a reputable source on the corporate world if they haven't been able to implement these specific "suggestions" in the workforce? They can't. I don't feel the author has more credibility than, say myself, in the corporate world. Mgmt trainee starting off in the executive compensation dept? Not to belittle that, but hardly a barometer for success, even if it is entry-level, first job straight out of college.
1) Basic Principles: high level overview of the book, a quick interesting read of sidebar anecdotes. Lends the book to potential of learning something.
2) Operating Instincts: this chapter focuses on 4 building blocks:
- targeting (this is basic principle 101 of finding out who to reach out to and a book on networking would have been better; added nothing for me)
- strategic elicitation (tips on eliciting information from people - again, no value add for anyone was has traveled for work and is somewhat of an extrovert and can strike up a conversation)
- corroboration (common sense, which admittedly is not really common anymore, but who doesn't seek to validate observations? anyone who has gone through any type of group projects, starting with school and rumors, will know to corroborate hearsay)
- trust & rapport (really? come on. this is not even 101)
3) Business Counterintelligence: an interesting chapter full of anecdotes, but nothing truly substantive for the vast majority of professionals despite the upfront caveat by author that this is applicable even if you're not working on a secret defense project or as a subcontractor for one. There was a good story about the corporate world and how a guy hired an office manager who was the daughter-in-law of a competitor; this does reaffirms that the paranoid survive.
4) Recruitment: a lot of common sense here about how to recruit people and matching skills with tasks instead of title; again, a lot of common sense that any somewhat experienced professional should already know and if HR doesn't do this in this day and age (March 2013) then shame on the company.
5) Ethics: thankfully, not a chapter preaching ethics and right vs wrong, but conclusion is that an ethical person is more trustworthy. Really? Come on. The book "Everything I learned, I learned in Kindergarten" or whatever the specific title probably explained this already.
6) Crisis Mgmt: Good stories about CIA's post-9/11 response which serve as good reminders of what to do in time of crisis; as well as what not to do. Good accurate protrayal of what happens in corporate world but stops short of explaining the motivations of poor crisis mgmt in corporate world - notably that the chain of command are also running around nervous, each man for himself and as such, productivity grinds to a halt. Because the high ups are concerned about their own job security with no definable stake in the final outcome (beyond stock options), paralysis exists. A nice contrast the author could have introduced is that firms with a large ownership structure by a founding family (i.e. common in Asia, but not in the USA) will NOT see this because there is effective leadership coming from on top. Sadly, no offer of advice by the author on how to handle this situation if you are a worker bee.
7) Sales Pitches: Absolutely not helpful to those who already understand "build rapport, find common ground". Truth be told, I was looking for a magic bullet here or some insight that I didn't already know. Basic networking strategies of having multiple stories to show as examples in conversations are more helpful than anything the author wrote. To be fair, one thing that was a good reminder to me was Technique #7 of "Regularly Re-recruit". Oftentimes, we need to constantly remind our clients and constituents of why they use us a vendor. Constant (but not bothersome) reinforcement is critical.
8) Supply-Chain Mgmt: a summary of everything else discussed in the book, particularly, have multiple sources of information that you corroborate. Nothing new at all.
9) Competition: evaluate your own weaknesses, improve them, understand your rivals, nothing new either.
In summary, a good summary for a college student, but nothing substantive for anyone with moderate success in the corporate world. Perhaps my expectations were too high?