Beyond the Job Description: A book review by Bob Morris

Beyond JobBeyond the Job Description: How Managers and Employees Can Navigate the True Demands of the Job
Jesse Sostrin
Palgrave Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press (2013)

Here’s a “compass” to navigate “the ecology and terrain of work’s greatest challenges”

The subtitle of this book really does indicate why Jesse Sostrin wrote it: To help as many people as possible to identify and then navigate “the true demands of the job,” those that comprise what he characterizes as “the hidden curriculum of work.” Managers as well as those for whom they are directly responsible would be well-advised to read and then re-read this book or at least the passages noted later in this brief commentary. More often than not, I suspect, the explicit details of a job description do not specify what prove to be the implicit criteria by which a workplace performance is measured. Hence the importance, Sostrin emphasizes, of uncovering the hidden curriculum of one’s job. “No two are the same, and so there is no single formula for cracking the code.”

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Sostrin’s coverage.

o How to Use This Book to Discover Your Career Path (Pages 8-10)
o Exposing the Hidden Curriculum of Work (14-17)
o Breaking Personal and Professional Barriers (29-30)
o A New Approach to the Way[s] We Work: Charles and Marley (35-41)
o Work Is Fast, Changing, and Relentless (47-50)
o Navigating the True Demands of the Job: The Competitive Advantage of the Twenty-First Century (53-56)
o Six-Question Matrix to Reveal and Resolve Hidden Challenges (62-69)
o Three Dimensions of Hidden Barriers: Up, Down, and Across the Given Workplace (71-73)
o Every Day Barriers, and Elusive Barriers (77-79)
o Navigation Map [Nav-Map] Overview (86-91)
o Real-World Applications of Nav-Maps (Chapter 7, 99-119)
o How to Make Your Own Nav-Maps (121-129)
o The Nature and Extent of a Future-Proof Plan (140-141)
o Identifying Your Future-Proof Capabilities (151-159)
Note: Be sure to check out Appendix 1, “Self-Assessment: How Future-Proof Are You?,” Pages 197-204
o The Power of Noticing (165-167)
o A Guide to Team Navigation (Chapter 13, 169-172)
o Culture Evolves at Three Levels: Individuals, Teams, and Organizations (187-190)

Some of the most valuable material is provided in Chapter 4 as Sostrin introduces and then examines what he characterizes as the “R-I-T-E Model” which enables those embarked on a career path to navigate various challenges along the way: Reveal your hidden curriculum of work (Vital Purpose + Valued Contributions + Barriers = Y “job-within-the-Job”); Identify Barriers That Mark Pathways to Learning and Performance (i.e. The everyday, core challenges that prevent you from doing your best work); Transform Barriers and Navigate Your Hidden Path to Success at Work (i.e. Nav-Maps that resolve challenges and keep you on purpose contribution your best); and Establish Future-Proof-Plans for Yourself (i.e. a specific, comprehensive and cohesive plan to manage the hidden side of work). In essence, that’s R-I-T-E Model and Jesse Sostrin devotes the remainder of this book to it, focusing primarily on HOW this “compass” can be used to greatest advantage.


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