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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Becoming a better boss looks at why so many bosses today are ineffective. Examining the gap between knowing best practise and putting it to work, Birkinshaw's book looks what has historically held bosses back from working with their employees better - essentially, understanding how to manage from their perspective.

Birkinshaw looks at ways of doing this, how to overcome organisational inertia and cites examples of organisations which have done this effectively.

It's a thought-provoking, useful guide which certainly got me thinking and stimulated a number of thoughts about how to apply it in my job and where I could be a better boss. It also spends a chapter at the end looking at where the working world is going and why an employee-centric organisation is necessary now and in the future.

If I had one critique of the book, it would be that Birkinshaw may underestimate the power of inertia - he does mention it a few times, but unless all the bosses and organisations in the world read his book, the pace of change may well be slower than he hopes. However, this is very much predicting the future, so it's a minor critique if at all. Overall, very readable, very thought-provoking.
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VINE VOICEon 12 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It's often difficult to approach management books without feeling that you'll have heard it all before.

But Julian Birkinshaw's book is different. He recognised that this is a problem and makes sure he goes above and beyond.

All his insights are backed up by both qualitative and quantitative data and his ideas are practical, rather than just being theoretical.

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their management AND leadership skills. Birkinshaw deliberately uses the word 'boss' to avoid people thinking it's only about one. Good read
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book impressed me both in presentation and content. The USP is that becoming a better manager means seeing the world more clearly through the eyes of the staff being managed. Birkinshaw has the academic credentials to raise this work above the fairly low standards of so many management guides that try to simplify the world into 7 key ideas or similar. Much of the ground is fairly familiar - there are no startling insights, but instead that are a lot of practical ideas which have actually been applied in practice - and the outcomes researched. So that is a welcome change.

He is not afraid to adapt from a wide range of sources. For instance we see him using Kahneman's fast and slow thinking, to show how good management is a bit of an unnatural act, which requires slow and conscious effort to figure out what to do. He argues good management involves both letting go (giving power to others) and giving credit to others, within a framework of self control. Making the right management choices between competing alternatives is never easy, but this book is a useful contribution to the field and might make it just a little bit easier.

Well worth your time and money.
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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'll try to keep this short and sweet:

Pros:
The author knows his field well enough to be professing on what works and what doesn't in management.
Equally, he takes a more bottom-up approach of management, its failures and its opportunities, instead of the more conventional top-down approach of other books.
The book is not just about managers as managers/people, but also about managers as agents of an organisation and as such they need to represent their interests.

Cons:
Many could say that this is yet another book about management and becoming a better boss, but then again so are all the rest.
The writing style, although eloquent and free of jargon, is simple and does not strike as memorable.
As another reviewer has already pointed out, the author seems to underestimate inertia within organisations. I believe that it is a huge problem (but opportunity at the same time), which is not adequately covered.
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on 31 March 2014
This is not one of those books which gives you one message, and then repeats it throughout. It is a real original work, packed with new analysis and stories of how companies have put new ideas into practice.

It is not aimed solely at those running organisations but is packed with ideas and advice for managers within organisations. I loved the examples of how to sidestep the bureaucracy and implement ideas which give people more freedom and more capacity to implement change. My favourite is the story of how a manager at Roche experimented with getting rid of approval of expenses, and instead trusting people to self-evaluate their travel (while displaying their claims on the intranet). The result was not just a huge reduction in hassle, but the cost went down.

Julian Birkinshaw was rated one of the top 50 management thinkers in the world in the 2013 Thinkers50 list and this book shows the real original contribution he makes.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Being a good manager is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Some managers forget what its like not to be a manager. Or, perhaps, think it beneath them. No longer to worry, and be happy. There is a difference between a boss and a manager. A manager knows how to get the best out of himself, and his team. A boss just tells you what to do. A manager allows your best work to be your job. A boss makes your job into nothing more than work. In one telling early moment, he asks about the best and worst boss you ever had, and you know exactly why they were each. By clever use of example and applied psychology, anecdote and fact, the case is made for turning from a boss to a manager, a human being, and so forth. Sadly, mere argument alone isn't enough : the key skill is bravery, and that is something we are born with, not trained to have.
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VINE VOICEon 7 November 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I enjoyed the read; it's a competent book; it doesn't necessarily offer much in the way of new ideas that you won't have come across elsewhere - but it does frame them differently. One of the things I did like is the focus on experimentation in a later chapter - treating a corporate environment as a petri-dish, and iteratively trying different approaches until you find what works. Unfortunately this is also quite polarizing; he deals with bureaucracy with a hand-wave, but I don't think he sufficiently acknowledges how difficult it actually is in practice to experiment, particularly with the immense friction that comes with real people being in the mix.

In summary, certainly a decent read that is worth the time.
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on 5 January 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is described by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development as 'full of great case studies, models, and ideas about how to effectively manage and engage the workforce of today...he is able to bring new perspectives and insights and deliver these in a highly readable and engaging way...'. The book is dedicated, in a delightful twist, to 'all the bad bosses I have worked for. I couldn't have written this book without your help'.

The book makes good use of charts and diagrams and comes complete with detailed Endnotes. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 25 February 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
I don’t think there’s anything new in the book but the author’s strength is his ability to package the content effectively. The book is fluently written and easy to read. Ideas, concepts and theories are explained well. In several respects the content gets to the heart of what management is all about and highlights the need for self-knowledge as well as understanding of others. Whether this is as insightful as some reviewers claim is debateable. But there is no doubt that the book is a cut above average. Recommended.
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on 20 February 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The market is filled with new-age management books that take a wider, often hippy-child look at management. These books impart NO USEFUL ADVICE!

This book speaks common sense and explains why handling all concerns of a business - the company AND its people - are so difficult - there's so many balls to keep in the air, while trying to hold onto your sanity!

Useful, down-to-earth advice.
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