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on 20 December 2004
This book is not just for managers at the executive level. It's also for you and me. It's for functional managers, project managers, and supervisors. The book targets new leaders at all levels that are making the transition from one rung of the ladder to the next.
If you have just been promoted to a new leadership position (or expect to be soon), then this book is for you.
The book outlines ten strategies that will shorten the time it takes you to reach what Watkins calls the breakeven point: the point at which your organization needs you as much as you need the job. Here they are ... the ten strategies:
1. PROMOTE YOUSELF. Make a mental break from your old job. Prepare to take charge in the new one. Don't assume that what has made you successful so far will continue to do so. The dangers of sticking with what you know, working hard at doing it, and failing miserably are very real.
2. ACCELERATE YOUR LEARNING. Climb the learning curve as fast as you can in your new organization. Understand markets, products, technologies, systems, and structures, as well as its culture and politics. It feels like drinking from a fire hose. So you have to be systematic and focused about deciding what you need to learn.
3. MATCH STRATEGY TO SITUATION. There are no universal rules for success in transitions. You need to diagnose the business situation accurately and clarify its challenges and opportunities. The author identifies four very different situations: launching a start-up, leading a turnaround, devising a realignment, and sustaining a high-performing unit. You need to know what your unique situation looks like before you develop your action plan.
4. SECURE EARLY WINS. Early victories build your credibility and create momentum. They create virtuous cycles that leverage organizational energy. In the first few weeks, you need to identify opportunities to build personal credibility. In the first 90 days, you need to identify ways to create value and improve business results.
5. NEGOTIATE SUCCESS. You need to figure out how to build a productive working relationship with your new boss and manage his or her expectations. No other relationship is more important. This means having a series of critical talks about the situation, expectations, style, resources, and your personal development. Crucially, it means developing and gaining consensus on your 90-day plan.
6. ACHIEVE ALIGNMENT. The higher you rise in an organization, the more you have to play the role of organizational architect. This means figuring out whether the organization's strategy is sound, bringing its structure into alignment with its strategy, and developing the systems and skills bases necessary to realize strategic intent.
7. BUILD YOUR TEAM. If you are inheriting a team, you will need to evaluate its members. Perhaps you need to restructure it to better meet demands of the situation. Your willingness to make tough early personnel calls and your capacity to select the right people for the right positions are among the most important drivers of success during your transition.
8. CREATE COALITIONS. Your success will depend on your ability to influence people outside your direct line of control. Supportive alliances, both internal and external, will be necessary to achieve your goals.
9. KEEP YOUR BALANCE. The risks of losing perspective, getting isolated, and making bad calls are ever present during transitions. The right advice-and-counsel network is an indispensable resource
10. EXPEDITE EVERYONE. Finally, you need to help everyone else - direct reports, bosses, and peers - accelerate their own transitions. The quicker you can get your new direct reports up to speed, the more you will help your own performance.
This book is not only relevant on the individual level. This transition process for new managers happens so often that it should be handled with more professionalism by (big) organizations. Whereas we as managers try to work actively with introduction programmes and training for new employees, then many managers must face their transition challenge alone. It shouldn't be like that. The "sink or swim" approach should be doomed.
Peter Leerskov,
MSc in International Business (Marketing & Management) and Graduate Diploma in E-business
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on 23 November 2004
I'm off to a new job in 2005 and, sitting and considering my future during my notice period, I wondered if I could do a better job of moving than I did the last time. This book provides a well thought out set of considerations and practical steps that you can follow to make your next critical move a success.
My one criticism is that when trying to summarise the plan onto one powerpoint slide (if you have ever worked at General Electric you will know I can't stop myself doing this), I found it a bit hard to put together a seqential plan; the bits don't easily tie together into an implementable plan timewise. A summary picture would have really helped me.
Maybe this is because each job is different and this book has to cover from CEO to junior manager. In the end I got it down into a plan that I a quite proud of and I am looking forward to my first day with my new employer somewhat more confident than I was the last time.
I like the fact it is well researched and not the first text on related subjects by this author.
I also like the fact that his starting point is that the determination of success is the interacion between the new company and the new employee. If you put together and implement a customised plan along the guidelines laid out here then I feel that you will have given it you best shot - which is all that we can hope to acheive.
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on 7 July 2005
It doesn't matter what level of the organization your new leadership role is in - from project supervisor to CEO - every promotion brings a period of transition, the need for new skills and a set of new expectations, challenges and opportunities. Just because you've been successful in one leadership role, you can't assume that your old strategy will automatically succeed in your new role. It probably won't. Take an analytical approach. Diagnose the situation and adapt your strategy to it. Michael Watkins' book tells you exactly how. If you will soon begin - or have already begun - a new leadership role, this book is an invaluable resource to help you map out your strategy, get on your boss's good side and accelerate your transition. Watkins provides fundamental information for anyone who wants to become a leader and stay on top, because he teaches you how to make a successful transition when your time comes. We recommend this excellent book to any leader at any level who is going through or embarking on a period of transition into a new role. Here's how to help make the transition more successful, faster and easier - on your staff, your boss and yourself.
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on 5 July 2008
I am only giving this book three stars as it doesn't completely do what it aims to. In the introduction the author sets out his desire to create a book that will serve managers of all levels but it falls somewhat short of this. In reality the book covers a lot of useful areas but it is written as if the reader is moving into a senior management role, if not an executive one. If you do not have the remit, for example, to hire and fire at will, create new products or restructure operations then I'd suggest that only about 25% of the material covered will be directly applicable, another 50% could be interpreted and adapted and the remainder focus on areas that may be outside of your scope of influence.

Having said the above I am glad that I have bought and read this book and, if I can utilise the 75% of the material that is relevant to me, I will be coming back to it again and again as I transition from one job to the next.

The things I liked about this book are:
* It's well written, if you like reading the Harvard Business Review you will probably like the way this is written
* It covers some interesting ideas that should be applicable to most managers
* Each chapter is well structured, containing examples of traps to avoid, frameworks to apply and simple end of chapter checklists
* It's reasonably well referenced with suggestions for further reading on some of its' more integral topics
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on 2 April 2006
I've just been promoted to my first real management-job and searched around Amazon for a couple of good books to read before getting started, when I came across Watkins 'The first 90 days'. In short is has 100% percent lived up to my highest expectations. Provokes lots and lots of concrete as well as more strategic thoughts on the specifics of the task ahead AND gives clearheaded and inspiring advice on how to get a head start. Warmly recommended to anyone facing promotion into any kind of new management role (I've already bought the book for two colleagues in similar situations...).
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on 30 March 2007
Useful if promoted internally but a must read if you are moving organisations. well written, with clear practical exercises and strategies to use in your new job. It was something I found myself turning to time and again in my first 90 days.
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on 18 March 2007
If you are working out your notice period and want to prepare for the new job this is a great book. It wakes you up to the scary realities of the new challenge on one hand & gives you comfort that you can use the advance time to prepare on the other.

Aimed at all levels of managers. Easy to read & lots of sensible practical advice. My copy is covered in yellow highlighter for all the nuggets of wisdom that I particularly like.

I'm sure this will be a book I recomend to others & keep going back to long after starting the new job.
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VINE VOICEon 22 November 2007
Moving unexpectedly into an international leadership role, I found the transition much more challenging than I had expected. Despite being disgustingly well organised and focussed, the stark, fundamental difference between my old and new jobs (despite being in the same company, department and technical field) was like night and day. I mind mapped, set priorities and thought strategically, but still struggled (inwardly rather than externally) with how best to spend my time. Having been helpfully directed by my new boss to set a 90 day plan, I found my way to this book.

The book is excellent - clearly written it provides both conceptual advice about what you should be doing (and the guidance will apply very broadly) and detail about conversations to have, where to spend time, how to diagnose the business situation and importantly, mistakes to avoid.

Having read very widely on management and leadership as part of my MBA, this touches an area outside the standard texts. It does not tell you how to lead, what leadership is, or about great leaders, it is purely focussed on making the transition to leadership. It is practical, accessible and well written, and as an investment at an important point in your career, unparalleled.
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on 27 December 2008
If you are moving into a new role (irrelevant of the level), this is a great book for providing new ideas about how to approach the challenge. It provides a wide range of ideas that will apply to leadership roles in a variety of situations. Since it is so well organised, it is possible to use it as a reference book and dip into the bits that are relevant for your particular situation. The examples and chapter summaries are excellent and make the material much more accessible.

The material applies to such a wide range of situations that I suspect others might find it useful. For example, it wouldn't surprise me if consultants will find this book useful when approaching a new engagement. It provides some useful tools and approaches to tackling new problems.

A really useful book that I will revisit time and time again. It is interesting to note that there aren't that many books that cover this important subject and it is a topic that many organisations actually overlook. The end result is that many of us end up in new roles with very little guidance during the transition period. This book helps fill this gap. As another reviewer suggested, if you are serving out your notice before starting a new job, this would be a good book to read. One thing is for sure, once you start your new job, you will only have limited time to read!
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on 31 August 2007
This book is a must have for all people changing roles. Using it you can build a detailed plan of what to do during your first 3 months after taking up your position. I have kept this as my bible when transitioning to all leadership roles from my first management position to global and board director positions. I still learn something new each time I read it!
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