All Hands On Deck: A book review by Bob Morris

All HandsAll Hands On Deck: Navigating Your Team Through Crises, Getting Your Organization Unstuck, and Emerging Victorious
Peter J. Boni
Career Press (2w015()

How and why disruption can create ten times (10X) the nature and extent of opportunity to advance and succeed

As I began to reads this book, I was again reminded of the fact that most (if not all) senior-level executives would be well-advised to lead and manage as if their organization were involved in a turnaround. That is, make decisions with a lean mindset. I think this is what Andy Grove had in mind when suggesting that “only the paranoid survive,” the title of his eponymous book. Grove has a two-step approach to making strategic decisions. The first step is to identify what he calls strategic inflection points, or SIPs. A SIP arises when there’s an order-of-magnitude change in a company’s environment. These are times when management must act. These are opportunities to go way up—or way down—in the world. How do you spot a SIP?

Grove offers a “six forces” framework for identifying SIPs. He starts with Michael E. Porter’s five-forces model: customers, suppliers, competitors, potential competitors, and providers of substitutes. He then incorporates some of our own work, which adds complementarity to the strategy map. After all, what is Microsoft to Intel? It isn’t a customer, a supplier, or a competitor, and yet there’s clearly a critical interdependence between the two companies. Intel and Microsoft are what could be termed complementors. Microsoft’s Windows 95 operating-system software complements Intel’s Pentium chips, and vice versa—that is, each product makes the other more valuable. Complementors, then, are Grove’s sixth force. To identify a SIP, Grove suggests scanning the environment to look for order-of-magnitude, or “10X,” changes in any of these six forces that affect a business’s fortunes.

Peter Boni invokes the shipwreck metaphor when discussing lessons to be learned from Captain Josiah Nickerson Knowles in the first chapter. “Running aground is dangerous for commercial ships, sailboats, and organizations alike. A team, department, company, or organization that’s stranded on the rocks [or imminent danger of it] stands to lose its precious cargo: its investors, supporters, customers, partners, money and talent. Raiders will take advantage for their own gain. Survival skills will be tested. When the grounding is serious, an organizational shipwreck is imminent — unless leaders can engage those on board or find help to kedge off [i.e. extricate] and right the ship. By using the right tools and training, that’s where you [the reader] come in.” Boni wrote this book to help as many leaders as possible to create the right dynamics for a high-performance team, lead through adversity, and know how to kedge off.

For most senior-level executives, Peter Boni offers all the information, insights, and counsel they need to achieve these and other organizational objectives. While in process of doing so, they can also achieve their own career objectives. Hence this book’s potential to at least a 10X impact on those who absorb, digest, and then apply its material with rigor and persistence.

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