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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zooms in on Implementation
Must-Win Battles is easy-to-read, almost like a series of vignettes and conversations, that walks a manager through the process of transforming his or her organization. It is filled with practical ideas and real-life stories. These examples show the reader how to engage a senior management team, decide if the existing people are up to the task, and, if so, build the team,...
Published on 2 Nov. 2005 by CLC

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2.0 out of 5 stars Belabored with repetition and padding.
I pressed on with this book for as long as possible, for it does contain some germs of insight. But about two thirds of the way through, and after reading "kick off" and "sustained momentum" for the 100th time, along with every other rather obvious idea the book contains, I could not make myself go on. I am too busy and have too many pressing matters to make the time for...
Published on 9 Jan. 2006 by Benjamin Rossen


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zooms in on Implementation, 2 Nov. 2005
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This review is from: Must-Win Battles: Creating the Focus You Need to Achieve Your Key Business Goals (Financial Times Series) (Hardcover)
Must-Win Battles is easy-to-read, almost like a series of vignettes and conversations, that walks a manager through the process of transforming his or her organization. It is filled with practical ideas and real-life stories. These examples show the reader how to engage a senior management team, decide if the existing people are up to the task, and, if so, build the team, or, if not, rebuild the team. It then moves on to off-site exercises one can do to get the team to work together to set an agenda for change, and then the last part of the book gives real examples of actually doing it. The European context and frameworks are refreshing. Keen attention is given to the emotional ingredients involved in leadership. Talking about change is easier than actually leading it. This book provides insights into building diverse teams and examples of how to cross organizational silos. I'd recommend it as an excellent how-to-do-it book on managing change processes and team-building.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignorance, arrogance, and confusion are weapons of organizational self-destruction, 6 Jun. 2006
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Q: What must be managed effectively to improve an organization's performance?

A: "First, [managers must] identify and win the right battles....But to win the battles, many organizations need to create a more effective top team and build an organization that [is] .less silo-based and capable of focusing all of its energies and capabilities on the chosen battles."

Q: What is a "must-win battle" (MWB)?

A: "MWBs are the three to five key battles that your organization absolutely must win to achieve its key objectives."

Q: What are the characteristics of a well-chosen MWB?

A: It must "make a real difference, be market focused, create excitement, be specific and tangible [and measurable], and be winnable."

Q: What is an "MWB journey"?

A: It is simultaneously both an emotional and intellectual process which must be completed by everyone involved in order to transform their organization. Ultimate success will depend upon a "shared understanding of the challenges and options facing the organization, an agreed list of three to five MWBs, a committed [and competent] team for each MWB, a high-level action plan for each MWB, new [better] ways of working together, individual commitments, and an initiation assessment of the starting conditions for engaging the organization."

Granted, this is an unorthodox way by which to begin a review but I really could not think of a better one. (No doubt someone else has.) The authors of this volume share what they have learned about why some organizational transformation initiatives succeed while most others fail. What they propose is a three-phase process (a "journey") which begins with a rigorous and thorough assessment of the current situation, followed by an engagement of the Team and then of teams for the MWBs, and then an engagement of the given organization which involves embedding the Team agenda and aligning the organization while maintaining momentum of the MWB initiatives.

I especially appreciate the authors' provision of all manner of reader-friendly devices throughout their lively narrative. For example, check lists of key points, graphics (maps and figures) which illustrate step-by-step segments of the "journey," and - whenever appropriate - caveats and disclaimers which correctly remind the reader that no course of action (including the one which the authors recommend) "fits all."

In the final chapter, they share eight "Lessons" learned from their research: five from successful MWB "journeys" and three from those which failed. In Appendix A, readers are provided with a comprehensive "MWB Journey Roadmap" and then in Appendix B, the authors provide "The Denison Survey: Questions" (copyright © by Daniel R. Rosen), a culture survey which is discussed on pages 47-48.

Presumably the authors agree with me that it would be a fool's errand for anyone to read and re-read their book, then rush - or even stroll -- to implement everything in it. It would also be a fool's errand to cherry pick diverse (albeit sound) ideas from a variety of different sources and then attempt to consolidate them in a single plan of "attack." Rather, I urge each reader to read Must-Win Battles with great care and then, preferably in discussion with others, co-determine what would be most appropriate to the given organization. Killing, Malknight, and Keys can be very helpful to that process of aanalysis and, especially, to identifying the highest priorities and most important objectives. My guess is that, by following that procedure, the "must-win battles" will reveal themselves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concentrating Resources, 26 April 2006
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Must-Win Battles: Creating the Focus You Need to Achieve Your Key Business Goals (Financial Times Series) (Hardcover)
Must-Win Battles explains that hoary strategic discipline: The top management meeting where a new direction is sent and then subsequently implemented. If you have never been through a good version of this process, Must-Win Battles will give you helpful templates for what to do . . . and what to be prepared for.

The steps are broken down into a logical sequence: First you prepare (understand where your organization is now and appreciate how to lead such a process); then you engage with the rest of top management (open up their minds to gain a fuller view, focus on the 3-5 accomplishments that are most important, and gain a one-organization perspective); and finally you spread this out across the organization (sharing what you learned during the top management meeting, describing the new agenda, reporting on progress and celebrating victories).

This process orientation is relieved by a hypothetical case study that gives the book a slight flair like a fable would provide.

To me, however, the case study in chapter 8 from Unilever's ice cream unit in Europe was far more helpful.

The book has three main weaknesses. First, the perspective is primarily that of someone facilitating a process (an outsider like a professor or consultant). Second, the book would have benefited from a lot more case studies and examples. I got pretty tired of the same one. Since it was hypothetical, I couldn't get too engaged in it. Third, the authors don't do much to connect the dots between their process and the excellent work of The Balanced Scorecard Collaborative (and the superb books, Strategy Maps, The Balanced Scorecard, Alignment and The Strategy-Focused Organization).

But the book has a redeeming quality. The authors do a fine job of making the case for how to focus on just a few issues. In my experience with facilitating dozens of such sessions like they describe in this book, most management teams want to have lists of hundred of things to do. It's hard to get them to focus . . . and you run the risk of annoying people if you push too hard on that point. By distributing this book in advance of such programs, many consultants and facilitators will find their clients being more cooperative.

Nice work!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Focus - focus - focus !!!!, 1 Nov. 2005
By 
PvW (Paris, France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Must-Win Battles: Creating the Focus You Need to Achieve Your Key Business Goals (Financial Times Series) (Hardcover)
MWB is a practical manifest to deal with a common business challenge, lack of focus : management launches a myriad of initiatives from the top, snowballing down the organization and creating a bit of avalanche at the bottom. The book takes the reader through a clear and comprehensive methodology: from selecting the areas of focus to actually to implementation of action, pointing out the pitfalls along the way and illustrated with clear examples. Beyond the ‘journey analogy’ which may not appeal to everyone, the real strength of this book is the multitude of very practical frameworks, visually appealing and well laid out in ready-to-use formats. Not yet another article stretched to business book, MWB offers plenty of very useful material for the executives to work with; highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-have if you want to win your business battles, 30 Oct. 2005
By 
Elizabeth Gooster "roving reader" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Must-Win Battles: Creating the Focus You Need to Achieve Your Key Business Goals (Financial Times Series) (Hardcover)
This book is a rich source of advice for anyone needing to bring some focus back to their business. I like the way the authors don’t shy away from revealing just how steep the challenges that many managers face really are, but then go on to offer a constructive plan for addressing them. Must-Win Battles is easy to read, coasting smoothly through the whole process from realising why you need to identify your MWBs, running the essential kick-off event to identify them and get the team on board, then showing you how to go ahead and actually win your battles. A balanced mixture of inspiring real-life examples, practical guidance and a non-nonsense framework make this a must-have book for anyone wanting to bring real change and success to their company.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A must-have book if you want to win your business battles, 18 Jan. 2006
By 
Elizabeth Gooster "roving reader" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is a rich source of advice for anyone needing to bring some focus back to their business. I like the way the authors don’t shy away from revealing just how steep the challenges that many managers face really are, but then go on to offer a constructive plan for addressing them. Must-Win Battles is easy to read, coasting smoothly through the whole process from realising why you need to identify your MWBs, running the essential kick-off event to identify them and get the team on board, then showing you how to go ahead and actually win your battles. A balanced mixture of inspiring real-life examples, practical guidance and a non-nonsense framework make this a must-have book for anyone wanting to bring real change and success to their company.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Belabored with repetition and padding., 9 Jan. 2006
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I pressed on with this book for as long as possible, for it does contain some germs of insight. But about two thirds of the way through, and after reading "kick off" and "sustained momentum" for the 100th time, along with every other rather obvious idea the book contains, I could not make myself go on. I am too busy and have too many pressing matters to make the time for this wordy tract of repetitive padding.
If you too are a busy manager, get someone to prepare a three page synopsis. They should not need more than that. Better still, read a really good book. Try Roberts "The Modern Firm."
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