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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon January 22, 2004
Gripe no. 1 : I hope its not going to become a common occurrence in business books, but there were 7 pages of 35 advance reviews (but 5 of them were only 2 lines which said little). Let me decide for myself if the book is any good – show me the product. Also, I work in IT, but there didn't seem to be a single reviewer with an IT background?
The book looks at the leader/manager/coach of a disparate group of professionals, assuming a mix of seniors & juniors.
I think the book isn't just for the leader/manager/coach – because in many such groups today, there can be rotation (time-based or task-based) where any of the group of professionals might be called upon to perform the leadership / coaching / mentoring role. So the book should be read by all members of the team. Also the leader is human – they might not be 'doing it right as per the book', and it could be useful for the others (they are all equals after all) to be informed to provide that guidance/correction.
The Sections are laid out well : getting ready; coaching the individual; coaching the team; building for the future.
It classes individuals into 4 styles : amiable, analytical, driver, expressive (I tend more towards the expressive), and how to work with each.
I also like the way it addressed underperforming members, how to correct the problem rather than try to rationalise it out of existence.
Because professionals jealously guard their autonomy, reserving the right to work as they see fit, professional groups have a greater-than-average tendency to become ill-disciplined – and thus a whole chapter is dedicate to how to run a meeting of such individuals.
I work in such a group, where there are 20 of us, probably 50:50 seniors & juniors (though we don't refer to ourselves in that way).
Gripe no. 2 : However, one thing missing explicitly from the book is if there are any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats from a geographically disparate or culturally diverse group?
My group is spread across 2 continents, 5 different timezones, with only 2 hours in the day when our extended workday (8am-6pm) coincides. We comprise at least 5 different nationalities & religions, and it seems many more political viewpoints. But time and time again, this material seemed to assume that this was a relatively homogeneous group, everyone was coming together physically in the same room, or at least, didn't even consider that people might be in the same geographical locations but be on the phone, and thus unable to see each others body language. My group only get together in the same room twice a year. We've evolved techniques over the 7 years we've been together to accommodate this, but I would have appreciated it more if this modern reality had been addressed?
I also liked the discussion on the maximum size of the group, and one correspondents rule of thumb that the group is too big if he can't tell you the name of everyone's spouse/significant other & what that person does for a living (assuming its OK culturally to ask for that information – in some cultures it's a no-no).
There's an excellent wrap-up where the dozens of checklists (don't let the apparent volume put you off – it's not that bad) are summarised and classified, and you are reminded in which chapters they are to be found.
Overall I think my group is doing quite well 80% of what is in the book, with maybe 10% that we wouldn't agree with, leaving us 10% that we could improve upon. I'm going to recommend it to everyone else.
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