The title reads a little strange at first but this book makes a very important point, one that every decision maker, project worker, consultant, change agent or just plain anybody who works for anything that matters should know: That sometimes "how?" isn't the important question, and that asking "How?" can actually be a defense against getting an effort started, a defense against change.
What every important project needs is less focus on "How?" and more focus on "Yes!", on the affirmation that this (whatever "this" is) is a worthwhile pursuit. That affirmation strengthens the will to do it, whereas continually asking "how?" saps your strength. Saying yes focuses on the goal you want to achieve, asking how focuses on all the obstacles.
It's not that asking how is necessarily wrong, it's just that overfocusing on questions like "How long will it take", "How much will it cost" and "How will we do it" can foster a state of mind in which no change is possible. Among other things, these questions assume that no project can be started unless we know the answers in advance. But in reality most worthwhile ventures are a leap of faith. You must say "Yes, this is what we want" and get started. We'll make up the "How?" as we go along.
This book is a somewhat challenging read, but most certainly worth it. It shines a light on what is to my mind the most important succes factor in any change initiative, namely commitment. And commitment comes from "Yes" not from "How?". Read it!
on 29 March 2005
Forget all the other books you have come across on leadership and self-development, this book is the only one you will need.
If you are a manager (rather than a leader),then you will probably find this book challenging as it will invite you to challenge yourself and a lot of current business school thinking.
If on the other hand you are a true leader and are frustrated with what most organisations call leadership then you will find this book liberating.
on 29 April 2005
According to Block, true leadership is a combination of idealism and pramatism realised in the archetype of the 'social architect'. This 'architect' combines practicality with the space for people to realise their highest values - a tough calling indeed - but one that is necessary for people to be fulfilled. He says that we have generated a culture fixated on 'instrumentalism' -that is we value certainty, answers and getting things done over and abover asking the deeper more valuable questions about vision and purpose. This generates an enormous emptiness of the soul. It reminds me that someone once said "we are a spirit having a human experience rather than a human having a spiritual experience'.
As a Christian I found this book enormously uplifting, - after all, Jesus aside from being the son of God was the ultimate idealist - but also incredibly challenging. I found myself practically hyperventillating several times as my mind responded to the challenges in this book - they really represent a paradigm shift which encourages embracing that life is imperfect, often mysterious and many questions will never be answered. Now you may say I should 'know' this as a Christian and I acknowledge the charge. However, if 'how' or getting things done is our cultural sea that we are immersed in, then we are the fish. Functionality mindsets affect every area of our lives including relationships (what have I 'invested' in this friendship - and the way we worship even though we are taught that we are saved by God's gift.
However, this should not stop up for reaching for the stars (or God!) despite understanding that uncertainty will always be there and that most people will not tolerate it. Ideals are far too touchy-feely for many people and Block says that those who committ to living their ideals will face extreme resistance from the prevailing culture - essentially they will be standing against the tide of counter-opinion. But fellow-readers, if you have courage to break free from the matrix - then do it. This book is not to be read lightly but if you are a closet idealist this book may give you the courage to come out. Because it discourages specific 'right way to do it' answers you will not find specific guidance on how to do it. This is part of your liberation... find your own freedom.