As One: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: August 3rd, 2011 by bobmorris

As One: Individual Action and Collective Power
Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley
Portfolio/Penguin (2011)

How and why “As One behavior” can accomplish almost anything

There is so much to be said about what this book offers. Where to begin? Perhaps my purposes are best served by providing a series of five key points:

1. Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley share what was learned from the a two-year Deloitte Flagship Project whose purpose was to examine the challenges of working together “As One.” The project’s scope was global, nourished and supported by best resources available from the US, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, and Japan.

2. Key questions are addressed. For example: What does it take to work As One? To succeed As One? To overcome barriers As One? To cope with failure As One? To become stronger As One?

3. Baghai and Quigley used an advanced forensic data analytic technique called a self-organizing map (SOM). Various maps (they use eight) “find relationships in data where the number of variables makes the analysis complex, and, they divide complicated data into groups of similar items so that you can understand what makes them similar.”

4. There are eight leader & followers archetypes: (landlord & tenants, community organizer & volunteers, conductor & orchestra, producer & creative team, general & soldiers, architect & builders, captain & sports team, and senator & citizens). A chapter is devoted to each of the eight. Baghai and Quigley thoroughly explain how leaders and followers can coordinate individual action with a group’s collective power.

5. Material about each of the two-part archetypes is organized within this format: Exemplary Individual, Exemplary Business, Key Characteristics of Leader and Team, “Is X the right model for the reader?”, and “How to become a better X?” For example, Chapter 4 (Pages 126-159):

Archetype: Producer & Creative Team
Individual: Jerry Bruckheimer (“The Man with the Golden Gut”)
Business: Cirque du Soleil
Key Characteristics of Leader and Team: Open culture, transparency, hands-off producer with a vision
Is it the right model?: Four reasons it could be great and four reasons to think twice
How to become a better producer?: Answer seven Qs such as “Does your culture effectively encourage openness and constructive criticism?”

No brief commentary such as this can possibly do full justice to what this book offers. Its scope and depth of coverage as well as the eloquence with which Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley present the material are unsurpassed by any other single source of which I am aware and I have read and reviewed hundreds of books about leadership and teamwork. Moreover, the book’s design, lay-out, and abundance of illustrations are of the very highest quality. Its list price is $40 and well worth it but Amazon now sells it for only $16.00.

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