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TURNAROUND

HOW TO CHANGE COURSE WHEN THINGS ARE GOING SOUTH

A vigorously written, ultimately encouraging method for rescuing a messed-up situation.

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A program for turning around downward-spiraling businesses and projects.

Drawing on three decades of helping organizations solve seemingly intractable problems, Gable presents the tenets and principles of her method for turning around situations when things go south and all hope seems lost. “The organization is hobbled by competition,” she posits, or “a revolving door of project leads, managers, consultants, and leaders” try without success to fix the problem. She begins by breaking down some of the most common reasons why things go wrong—founders stick around long after their original dreams and motivations have become outdated, bosses indulge in company-damaging hubris, the raw economics of the project make its ultimate results impossible, and, perhaps most importantly, managers become stuck in one “cookie-cutter” model and resist trying new things. Gable writes, “Today we recognize that to solve problems creatively, you need as many diverse voices working on them as possible.” Gable claims that her method has been “battle-tested” out in the real world, and it’s based on four basic steps: visualizing the future, analyzing the past, creating a plan to move from the present to the future, and then executing that plan with “speed, confidence, and heart.” Gable fleshes out these general principles with specific examples from her own past and case studies where her ideas have been executed properly. 

Her own anecdotes, all smoothly and invitingly told, are all teamwork stories (when she’s hired as CEO of a food allergy research company, for instance, the changes she describes are all community-based, as are so many descriptions throughout the book). A crucial current running through the various “turnaround” principles is an implicit rejection of the savior complex that tends to rule the roost in the business world. As Gable’s recollections make clear over and over, salvaging an impossibly tangled situation requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. “You want to incentivize everyone involved in your turnaround to invest, work with you, and execute in a matter that supports the new future.” That “new future” is another key feature of Gable’s outlook: Although the temptation in any debacle is to obsess over the mess, Gable emphasizes the importance of having a clear plan for the future as the ultimate counterbalance to finger-pointing. She refreshingly ranges her advice regarding where a problem might reside, from a flawed corporate vision to poor management of assets. And although some readers may find her personal business-world anecdotes a bit too excessive (they very much outweigh the book’s more theoretical portions), those stories serve an important cumulative purpose: They show her principles in action, demonstrating how they work in real situations with real people. “Change brings anxiety,” she writes. “People feel bounced around as their reality shifts, and uncertainty grows.” Those “bounced around” people—Gable’s readers who’ve found themselves caught up in some horribly dysfunctional problem—will find a good deal of hard-won wisdom in these pages.

A vigorously written, ultimately encouraging method for rescuing a messed-up situation.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64687-058-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Ideapress Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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