New Rules of the Game: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: February 5th, 2015 by bobmorris

New Rules of the GameNew Rules of the Game: 10 Strategies for Women in the Workplace
Susan Packard
Prentice Hall Press (2015)

Results-driven strategies and tactics that can help women to accelerate their personal growth and professional development

Whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations have rules that provide order and structure to relationships between and among those involved. Competitive games offer excellent examples. Teams as well as individuals must play by specified rules and penalized if they don’t. (Golf is the only game I know of that is almost entirely self-relegated by participants.) In this volume, Susan Packard offers ten strategies for women in the workplace and devotes a separate chapter to each. Her objective is to help her readers to accelerate their personal growth and professional development, using gamesmanship, her sword “for a broad, strategic, and overreaching approach to success in the workplace. It is something we practice every day in sports — and in business.”

She employs a basic format for each “rule”: its game context and its business setting, followed by a rigorous explanation of what to do and how to do it. For example, with regard to Conditioning (Rule #1`), the game context is that conditioning enables an athlete to go from good to great. Success on the playing field requires “more than raw talent and enthusiasm. You need physical condition and skills.” With regard to the business setting, “Smarts, enthusiasm, and ambition will get you only so far. To advance, you must acquire and demonstrate certain technical skills. And skills are not born: they are learned.” She takes the same approach in the subsequent chapters, applying the same format with each of the other rules. Packard then concludes each chapter with a “Your Turn” exercise that enables a reader to interact much more effectively with the material presented. In Chapter 1’s “Your Turn” section, she focuses on “Line Experience” (see page 219), “Finance Knowledge,” and “A Global Perspective” (see page 220). You get the idea.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Packard’s coverage:

o What Is Gamesmanship? (Pages xxvi-xxvii)
o Three Rules of Conditioning (1-23)
o Composure: Why and How? (27-31)
o Self-Care (39-44)
o Playing Verbal Offense (48-51)
o Verbal Offense in Compensation and in Promotions (55-57)
o My Introduction to Business Brinkmanship (62-64)
o Personal Brinkmanship (65-76)
o Movies and TV: Great Moments in Brinkmanship (76-78)
o Likability = Business Success (84-85)
o Trust, Soft Power, and How to Build Both (90-96)
o Working with Men (96-104)
o Putting in Your5 10,000 Hours (108-110)
o Active Practice, Mental Practice, and Cross-Training Practice (110-121)
o Uniforms Matter (127-132)
o Developing the Good Sportsman Advantage (141-147)
o Grit as Resilience (153-158)
o Grit as Defense (159-165)
o Grit as Everyday Courage (165-170)
o Team Chemistry (174-186)

I commend Susan Packard on the high quality of the information, insights, and counsel that she provides in this volume. Although the material is primarily intended for women, especially in mid- and upper-management, I think it will also be of substantial value to the men who supervise them. That said, I cannot recall a prior time when it was more important to establish and then constantly nourish a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive.

With all respect to the importance of gamesmanship, however, it is important to keep in mind that teams built around teamwork improve whereas teams built around talent wear out. There are important lessons to be learned from about gender equality in a meritocracy from companies such as Ernst & Young, General Mills, IBM, Marriott, Procter & Gamble, and State Farm. Teams of men and women must achieve together the long-delayed improvement of workplace terms and conditions that have been long-denied to women. I think this book will help them to win that “game” and do so sooner than perhaps they now believe possible.

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