Writings on various topics (mostly technical) from Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins. We have lived in Berlin since 2009, have two kids, and have far too little time to really justify having a blog.
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni is the latest book I've gotten through, and also a bit of a compilation of all of Patrick's previous works. Very early on when I first started managing teams, I read his other book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team which I still recommend and really enjoyed reading (a few times over). Really these books are aimed at leadership groups (think executives at a medium to large company) but I find they have lessons that are equally applicable to any team situation or group of leaders.
Where Five Dysfunctions focusses more on team dynamic and health of the leadership group, The Advantage is trying to describe what is the biggest neglected area that would give a business a clear advantage over others. Not surprisingly, a lot of it builds upon Patrick's previous work and is largely made up of having a cohesive leadership team that understands and trusts each other, building a vision for the business and where it is going, communicating that vision, and building it into every aspect of the business so that it is continually reinforced.
I found very little to dislike about this book and it definitely mirrors much of what I've experienced in my recent years of work. If you don't have a cohesive leadership team, how can you expect to have a cohesive vision and strategy for the business? If you don't have the cohesive vision, how can you communicate one to the rest of the business? If you don't have a cohesive vision you can communicate, how can you build it into the processes and culture of the company and have people use it daily to improve the work? It seems obvious, but as Patrick himself points out many times: just because it is obvious doesn't mean leaders are actually doing it or feel it needs a lot of energy invested into it.
The final section of the book deals with effective meetings. Having recently read through the various books from the founders of Basecamp, I found talking about more effective (and more more) meetings to be a bit jarring. I guess I've now had it hammered into me from these recent books that meetings should be used sparingly, and I've had many experiences where a seemingly concrete and specific agenda hasn't delivered the value we'd expected. It's also much harder to get rid of a non-functional meeting than it is to schedule a new one. I'll have to ponder the topic more, although I do like the four different kinds of meetings that Patrick recommends - and it's important to remember that this is intended for teams of leaders/managers rather than individual contributors.
Overall I think it's a great book and one I'll need to come back to should I find myself in more of a manager-of-managers position (or just needing to think about how to direct a business in a more healthy direction). Probably not something so useful when you are in the lower rungs of the management hierarchy and can't steer the entire ship! Strong four out of five for me.