Know What You Don't Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen

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Pearson Prentice Hall, Jan 29, 2009 - Business & Economics - 224 pages

Problems remain hidden in organizations for a number of reasons, including fear, organizational complexity, gatekeepers who insulate leaders from problems that are coming up, and finally, an overemphasis on formal analysis in place of intuition and observation. This book lays out the key skills and capabilities required to ensure that problems do not remain hidden in your organization. It explains how leaders can become effective problem finders, unearthing problems before they destroy an organization. The book explains how leaders can become an anthropologist, going out and observe how employees, customers, and suppliers actually behave. It then goes on to present how they can circumvent the gatekeepers, so they can go directly to the source to see and hear the raw data; hunt for patterns, including refining your individual and collective pattern recognition capability; "connect the dots" among issues that may initially seem unrelated, but in fact, have a great deal in common; give front-line employees training in a communication technique; encourage useful mistakes, including create a "Red Pencil Award"; and watch the game film, where leaders reflect systematically on their own organization's conduct and performance, as well as on the behavior and performance of competitors.


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User Review  - GovMarley - LibraryThing

I expected more from this book. Essentially you must ask questions, share information, encourage your team to take smart risks, and incorporate after-action reviews into your routines. I did enjoy the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - simbacat - LibraryThing

An excellent insight into problem finding and how to establish the environment that encourages information sharing, blameless analysis and speaking out about problems and issues so that they are addressed and not marginalised and ignored. Read full review


Chapter 1 From ProblemSolving to ProblemFinding
Chapter 2 Circumvent the Gatekeepers
Chapter 3 Become an Ethnographer
Chapter 4 Hunt for Patterns
Chapter 5 Connect the Dots
Chapter 6 Encourage Useful Failures
Chapter 7 Teach How to Talk and Listen
Chapter 8 Watch the Game Film
Chapter 9 The Mindset of a ProblemFinder

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About the author (2009)

Michael A. Roberto is the Trustee Professor of Management at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, after six years as a faculty member at Harvard Business School. His research, teaching, and consulting focus on strategic decision-making processes and senior management teams. He is the author of Why Great Leaders Don’t Take Yes for an Answer (Wharton School Publishing, 2005).

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