A social scientist examines inventive ways that individuals and organizations can build on their existing resources to achieve remarkable results.
In this well-informed and frequently enlightening book, first-time author Sonenshein (Management/Rice Univ.) delves beneath a collective mindset he defines as “chasing,” which is oriented “around acquiring resources, overlooking how to expand what’s already in hand.” He demonstrates how working with less, if we’re creatively engaged or “stretching,” can yield profound outcomes. Taking his cue from writers like Malcolm Gladwell—Blink and Outliers, in particular, come to mind—Sonenshein builds his reasoning around a broad series of case studies in which individuals, seemingly against all odds, have succeeded by wisely making use of their sometimes-unlikely assets. Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez produced his first film, El Mariachi, on a budget of roughly $7,000 by actively engaging himself in every aspect of the production. In the beer-brewing business, Dick Yuengling beat out his chief rival, Princeton-educated Peter Stroh, by frugally upgrading current equipment and factories rather than expanding and relying on fewer employees who were eager to implement their own ideas for making the business more productive. Sonenshein wants readers to embrace stretching as a means to gain fulfillment and freedom in all areas of life and work, not just when dictated by pressing circumstances. “The road to stretching,” he writes, “starts with a simple but significant shift in mind-set—giving up the belief that having more resources = getting better results and replacing it with the conviction that a better use of resources = getting better results. This change in mind-set takes us away from a dehumanizing rat race for resources that is impossible to win and provides us with a way to make do with and magnify what we already have.” Throughout, Sonenshein is an amiable guide to attaining the benefits of stretching.
A convincing argument within a compelling narrative—recommended for business managers and resourceful individuals alike.