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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Though-provoking, but rather pushing an agenda, 29 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (Hardcover)
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I'll start with the best bit - Chapter 9. This promotes the idea that the changes with the greatest potential rewards also tend to have a significant risk of failure, and as a result, failure needs to be handled sensibly, without unnecessary persecution and blame.

It's also the main chapter that does look at all at what to do when things go wrong. While the rest of the book talks about how to evaluate how open you are as a company and as a manager (the assumption throughout the book being that you are relatively senior in the company, not a social networking evangelist lower down the ladder), and benefits that you can see from being more open, there is a shortage of discussion of how it can go wrong.

Throughout the book there are plenty of discussions of open strategies followed by companies like Dell (in fact Chapter 10 reiterates most of them a second time), highlighting how a company managed to become more responsive and more able to deal with an unfolding crisis through being more open.

My main issue is that it doesn't apply the same treatment to the flip side - what issues have arisen because a company became more open, what the risks really are, and how the companies being discussed addressed that. It's too focussed on promoting the open leadership style.

A slightly more minor issue is that it's very focussed on large brands and companies - the kinds of ones where an issue written about by a blogger might manage to hit the news sites. I've no doubt that the majority of execs looking at books like this work for rather smaller companies, where that kind of exploding negative publicity is much less likely, yet there was no discussion about how different sizes of company might as a result have different pressures to be more open.

That said, there are plans and checklists for working out how open you want your company to be, and how open you already are, and if you're wanting to adopt a more open approach, then it will provide reference material for justifying it also. In the sense that a book like this may be largely 'preaching to the choir' and more putting existing ideas of increasing openness on a more solid footing, it serves that purpose well.

I wouldn't necessarily consider it any kind of definite work on business planning, nor compulsory reading, but there are enough anecdotes and plans and so on to make it solid enough to have merit for anyone who is looking at their social networking strategy. The writing style is friendly and doesn't get too bogged down in detail, so it is a book that you can read through relatively quickly for a business-focussed text. It also references website resources to offer further support in implementing a strategy.

So, all in all, good, but not great. A relatively easy read, but more for managers already interested in a social networking strategy than anyone else.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

David Burton
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: London, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 9,953