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Customer Review

Q: What must be managed effectively to improve an organization's performance?

A: "First, [managers must] identify and win the right battles....But to win the battles, many organizations need to create a more effective top team and build an organization that [is] .less silo-based and capable of focusing all of its energies and capabilities on the chosen battles."

Q: What is a "must-win battle" (MWB)?

A: "MWBs are the three to five key battles that your organization absolutely must win to achieve its key objectives."

Q: What are the characteristics of a well-chosen MWB?

A: It must "make a real difference, be market focused, create excitement, be specific and tangible [and measurable], and be winnable."

Q: What is an "MWB journey"?

A: It is simultaneously both an emotional and intellectual process which must be completed by everyone involved in order to transform their organization. Ultimate success will depend upon a "shared understanding of the challenges and options facing the organization, an agreed list of three to five MWBs, a committed [and competent] team for each MWB, a high-level action plan for each MWB, new [better] ways of working together, individual commitments, and an initiation assessment of the starting conditions for engaging the organization."

Granted, this is an unorthodox way by which to begin a review but I really could not think of a better one. (No doubt someone else has.) The authors of this volume share what they have learned about why some organizational transformation initiatives succeed while most others fail. What they propose is a three-phase process (a "journey") which begins with a rigorous and thorough assessment of the current situation, followed by an engagement of the Team and then of teams for the MWBs, and then an engagement of the given organization which involves embedding the Team agenda and aligning the organization while maintaining momentum of the MWB initiatives.

I especially appreciate the authors' provision of all manner of reader-friendly devices throughout their lively narrative. For example, check lists of key points, graphics (maps and figures) which illustrate step-by-step segments of the "journey," and - whenever appropriate - caveats and disclaimers which correctly remind the reader that no course of action (including the one which the authors recommend) "fits all."

In the final chapter, they share eight "Lessons" learned from their research: five from successful MWB "journeys" and three from those which failed. In Appendix A, readers are provided with a comprehensive "MWB Journey Roadmap" and then in Appendix B, the authors provide "The Denison Survey: Questions" (copyright © by Daniel R. Rosen), a culture survey which is discussed on pages 47-48.

Presumably the authors agree with me that it would be a fool's errand for anyone to read and re-read their book, then rush - or even stroll -- to implement everything in it. It would also be a fool's errand to cherry pick diverse (albeit sound) ideas from a variety of different sources and then attempt to consolidate them in a single plan of "attack." Rather, I urge each reader to read Must-Win Battles with great care and then, preferably in discussion with others, co-determine what would be most appropriate to the given organization. Killing, Malknight, and Keys can be very helpful to that process of aanalysis and, especially, to identifying the highest priorities and most important objectives. My guess is that, by following that procedure, the "must-win battles" will reveal themselves.
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