As I read this book, my mind kept
to a particular image. Namely, J. D. Watson and Francis Crick as they relentlessly pursued the mystery of life . . . and finally struck upon the double-
structure of DNA. The world has never been the same. Next stop . . . Stockholm in December.
I don t know whether the authors of this book will get the call that confirms a Nobel, but there s a part of me that thinks it s their just deserts for this
and groundbreaking masterwork.
An absurd claim?
I think not.
and extreme physical and mental malaise,
and divorce, abject failure and Olympian success . . . all these profound subjects at their
depend upon functioning ”or malfunctioning ”human relationships. Dyads: a couple. Little organizations: a 20-table restaurant or 20-person finance department. Giant organizations . . . an army or a Fortune 50 corporation. Nations on the brink of war and genocide.
Enter our new Watson and Crick and the essential element of the organizational DNA: the DNA of effective crucial
Some renowned management experts have made careers out of their belief, Get the strategy right . . . and the rest will take care of itself. Others have said, Strategy, smattergy . . . it s the core business processes that explain the
between winners and losers. And then there are those that claim that leader selection has no peer in explaining various degrees of organizational effectiveness.
Doubtless there is truth in all the above. (I ve held various of these
. . . each passionately.) But then again, perhaps all such magisterial concepts aimed at explaining differences in organizational
the boat. Perhaps the idea of organizational DNA that makes for
outcomes is Absent Without Leave.
Yes, I m that bullish on
. (Perhaps because I ve seen so many of my own
strategies evaporate in the space of minutes ”seconds ”as I screwed up a confrontation with a peer or key employee. Again . . . and again.)
So why did we have to wait until this moment for this book? Perhaps it s the times. We used to live in a more tolerant world. Buildups to war could last decades. Smoldering corporate ineffectiveness could take eons to burst into flame. Lousy marriages festered for years and then more years.
No more. The
is unforgiving. One strike ”whether
foul-up or terrorist with dirty bomb ”and you re (we re!) out. Thus continual organizational effectiveness ”which is, after all, nothing more than human- relations effectiveness ”is of the utmost urgency, from CIA headquarters to Wal-Mart headquarters.
is an original and a bold leap forward. No doubt at all. But, like all good science, it is built on a rock-solid base of what has come before. The neat trick here is imaginatively applying the best of psychological and
research over the last half century to this very particular, precisely defined topic . . . crucial confrontations ”on topics such as performance and trust ”that promote or destroy relational or organizational effectiveness.
The basic hypothesis is profound. The application of proven research is masterful. The
and supporting stories are compelling and lucid. The translation of the research and stories into practical ideas and sound advice that can be implemented by those of us who have floundered on these paths for decades is nothing short of breathtaking.
Hey, if you read only one management book . . . this
. . . I d insist that it be
July 7, 2004