Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review of "From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Forging Resilient Business Relationships in the Heat of Change," by Michael Papanek and Luz Alexander

Review of
From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Forging Resilient Business Relationships in the Heat of Change, by Michael Papanek and Luz Alexander, ISBN 9781630479800

Five out of five stars
 In the business world, being trusted to carry out your stated and contractual obligations has always been a significant asset. Unfortunately, taking it seriously requires a long-term perspective that is so often lacking in the short term mindset of the modern business world. Yet, in the increasingly rapid change of the modern business climate, it is even more essential.
 Executives and managers need to be able to make decisions quickly, sometimes relying on a verbal or e-mail agreement to cement major decisions. This can only be done when both sides trust each other, and trust is based on the quality of the relationships.
 While this is true in business-to-business operations, it also holds within organizations. Employees at all levels need to trust their managers at all levels above them, managers need to be able to trust the managers in the horizontal direction and all of these trusts are bi-directional. When there is any lack of trust within this complex relationship graph, major inefficiencies seep in quickly and across the board.
 The theme of this book is a set of basic tactics that can be used to create the goodwill needed to forge sound and resilient relationships between people at all levels in an organization as well as between people within distinct organizations. Most of the advice is simple, in the sense that they could serve as sound advice in all relationships. None of the “lean and mean” nonsense that the pseudo-tough bosses espouse so mindlessly.
 Developing trust between humans is a slow, incremental process that is rarely, if ever, aided by someone uttering the phrase “Trust me.” As the authors repeatedly demonstrate, it is actions that build trust, not mere words and insincere phrases. The heart of this old math guy was warmed by the use of the functional equation
T = [f(I * C)] / Risk.
Where T is trust, I is intention and C is consistency. Intention is the evidence of what is driving the behavior of the other person, consistency is the frequency that the other person keeps their word and risk is a measure of what is at stake in the relationship.
 Many books describing the soft skills of relationship building tend to degenerate too much to the level of “be very sensitive to the feelings of others” to the point where the real focus of the organization is lost. At no point did this book reach that level, the content is about being interested in others to the point where you create the trust to be able to work through issues and reach mutually beneficial conclusions. This book should be read by the decision makers at all levels of all companies.

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