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Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – 2

Note: this book being also very comprehensive, I am publishing its summary in two parts. This is Part Two. Part One is here.

Made to stick

Book review and summary, Part II:

Chapter 5: Emotion

“If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”

Mother Theresa

Scientific research shows that Mother Theresa’s precept is true for most of us. Charity organizations have known this for a long time: we do not give to “poverty in Africa”, but we sponsor this or that child. It is very difficult for us to feel compassion for statistics. Although we are aware that the economical situation in Africa is dreadful, we often do not feel concerned enough to act. Seeing an individual suffer, and knowing that we can do something to soothe their ordeal, is quite different.

Charity organizations are not the only ones needing to make people feel concerned. Managers, teachers, politicians and many others need to motivate their colleagues, their pupils, their troops.

What should you be looking for in order to motivate human beings? Appeal to what matters to them. And what matters to them? What are they concerned about?

The answer is simple: themselves. You therefore need to appeal to… their personal interest, and explain: “what can you gain from it” in the messages and ideas you want to convey. How many teachers have heard their pupils ask “But what’s the point of it?”. Do you think pupils are motivated to learn if their teacher cannot answer this question? And what if we could tell them that algebra improves your video game performances, would a teacher hesitate to say it? Would any teacher doubt that it would make the pupils more attentive?

If you have their personal interest on your side, don’t hesitate. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t say: “People will feel safe with GoodYear Tires”, say: “You will feel safe with GoodYear Tires”.

There is however a more subtle way to appeal to the people’s personal interests. In 1982, psychologists carried out a survey on persuasion: students visited homeowners and asked them to answer questionnaires for a presentation. At the time, cable TV was only just beginning and most people had only vaguely heard of it. The survey was meant to compare the efficiency of two different approaches to make people subscribe to cable television, which was to be rolled out a month later.

In the first approach, the following text was presented:

“Cable television will provide its subscribers with more extensive news and entertainment services. Used appropriately, it gives the viewer freedom to plan in order to enjoy the programs on offer. The subscribers may spend more time at home with their family, on their own or with friends, thus saving the hassle of a night out, as well as babysitting and petrol expenses.

In the second approach, the homeowners were asked to imagine a precise scenario:

“Take a few moments and imagine how cable television is going to allow you to enjoy more extensive news and entertainment services. When you know how to use it, you will be able to plan ahead the events you want to watch. Think about it: no more hassle for a night out, not to mention the savings on babysitting and fuel. You will be able to spend time at home, with your family, on your own, or with your friends.”

The differences between the two texts may seem minor. But count the number of times the word you is used in both samples.

One month after the survey, cable television was rolled out in the city and the researchers analyzed the homeowners’ subscriptions. Result: 20% of the first group had subscribed, in keeping with the subscription rate in the area; on the other hand, in the second group, 47% of the homeowners had subscribed.

The subtitle of the article the researchers published was “Is imagining making things happen”. The answer was: it is.

The benefit to the buyer here was not indeed all this valuable. The main argument was: “by subscribing to cable TV, you save yourself the hassle of getting out of your house” (!). These results suggest that – more so than their importance – it is in fact the tangible and concrete aspect of the benefit that clearly comes out when people imagine them, which make them feel concerned.

There is indeed no need to promise the earth: it is often enough to promise reasonable benefits people can easily imagine themselves enjoying.

Personal interest, however, does not explain everything, as Abraham Maslow attempted to demonstrate in his famous pyramid. A recent study presented the following scenario to a selection of people:

Imagine a company offering its employees a $1,000 bonus should they achieve a number of objectives. Here are three ways of presenting the bonus to the staff:

(more…)

Deep Survival – 2

 

Note: Because this book is so thick and full of stories, anecdotes and repetition, making it difficut to summarize, I am publishing the summary in two parts. Here is the second. The first part is here. Moreover, certain chapters are somewhat redundant, I skipped the ones that I thought brought little value to the overall work. I have put a concise description in parentheses of each passage to do with the title of these chapters that I don’t necessarily address here.

Part 2 : Survival

When you see someone crying, whether because they are in mourning, or because their son is far away, or because they have lost a possession, be careful not to be carried away with the idea that bad things have befallen them. Remember that in the moment what is affecting them is not the accident, which doesn’t affect anyone but them, but the judgment that they bring to the accident.

Epictitus

 

  • Chapter 9 : Bending the Map (The importance of an appropriate mental model for your surroundings, the 5 stages of loss)

One day in 1998, Ken Killip, a strong and experienced firefighter, took a three day hike with his friend, York, in Rocky Mountain National Park, a huge wild expanse of some 1,000 square kilometers covered with mountains and forests

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Parc National des Montagnes Rocheuses

Photo by The Brit 2

Parc National des Montagnes Rocheuses

Photo by tgrt

They had a specific itinerary to complete of around 10 kilometers with their heavily stuffed packs and one part of their hike took them up to height of 4,000 meters. They were sharing their load and York was carrying the tent. The latter had to regularly wait for Killip who walked less quickly than he did. After five or six hours, he got tired and left Killip behind – people regularly fail to understand that they should travel at the pace of the slowest, not more quickly.

(more…)

Deep Survival

Deep Survival - Qui Vit, Qui Meurt et Pourquoi

One sentence summary: In extraordinary circumstances, like accidents or catastrophes, some people survive and others die, such that sometimes things lead you to believe that the first ones die and the second ones survive; this book explains, using numerous stories of accidents and catastrophes, and by exploring the latest scientific theories – from neuroscience to the theory of chaos – what makes one person die and another survive.

By Laurence Gonzales, 2003, 295 pages.

Summary and book review:

The author begins by telling us the story of his father, a B17 bomber pilot – the flying fortress – during the Second World War. While conducting a raid on Dusseldorf, his plane was hit in midair by a shot from a German flak, which cut the left wing in two and killed nine crew members on the spot – out of ten. With his plane spinning around, pinned by centrifugal force, seriously wounded, he failed to grab his parachute and jump. He remained imprisoned in the cockpit for a six kilometer descent while the plane was cut in two. Then he fainted. When he came to, he was on the ground, and looked out at the world through the shattered window of the cockpit. He whole body was in agony, and a piece of the cockpit had penetrated his leg. A German farmer was standing in front of him, his gun pointed at him – at that time, they did not hesitate to kill American pilots from time to time. The German fired.

He survived. He was taken to a prisoner camp, then freed at the end of the war.

Laurence Gonzales’ interest in survival began when his father told him his story. The fact that he lived while so many others died fascinated him, and he wanted to understand, with the help of his interest in science. When five people were shipwrecked and only two came home, what was it that made the difference? Who survived the Nazi camps? Why did Robert Falcon Scott die during his expedition to the North Pole and Roald Amundsen survive? Why was a 17 year old adolescent girl the sole survivor to escape in the Peruvian jungle, while the adult victims with her in an air crash died? Why can some people survive the worst psychological catastrophes, like divorce, death, layoff, serious illness, while others suffer terribly? In his quest, he discovered principles that he tells us about in his book. Follow the guide.

Part 1 : How accidents happen

 

  • Chapter 1: Look out, here comes Ray Charles (The impact of emotion on our actions and how they are the cause of certain mistakes, the impact of fear and the effectiveness of humor)

Shortly before the author reached the American aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, an important step in his quest that was leading him to explore the frontier between life and death – frontier because some people succeed and others fail – a pilot was in the middle of landing, a normal sort of thing on such a boat. But his approach was too low. And many signals were indicating that to him, both in his cockpit and on the runway – the landing officer had turned on large red lights which meant your approach is not good, you should not land! And of course he yelled into his microphone, his voice echoing in the pilot’s helmet. But the latter continued, even though he only had to push down a fraction of an inch on the throttle to take off again and try a new approach.

The impact of the tail against the aircraft carrier cut the plane in two, and sent the pilot ricocheting off the runway in a shower of sparks, still clinging to his seat.

He survived. That was not the end of the story, that is not where the frontier is. The frontier can be found in this question: What was he thinking? He was intelligent, well prepared and had undergone extremely rigorous training. Something powerful blocked him. Something strong enough to continue trying to hit the runway even though all signals indicated that he wouldn’t make it. This reminded Laurence Gonzales of numerous accidents in dangerous sports like canyoneering which happened because people were ignoring the obvious signs for some inexplicable reason. It is this mystery that the author was trying to solve.

What the pilots of the Carl Vinson know, is that some time issues come up. There are things that you cannot control and you would be better off knowing how you are going to react to them.

The first rule is: face up to reality. Good survivors are not immune to fear. They know what is happening and fear permeates them completely. The whole question is what they do right afterwards.

When a pilot takes the controls of a plane and soars off the runway, he is often in a state of advanced excitement. Flying is his passion and sometimes he only lives for that. Every flight is a pure moment of joy and happiness, even though he is piloting several tons of a highly unstable machine that is full of explosive fuel where the slightest mistake could be fatal. They take a calculated risk just as snowboarders do before taking off from the top of a mountain, alpine climbers, parachutists and numerous other sports.

At times like that, people are not really totally present. They are each in a state of perception, of awareness, of memory and of deeply altered emotion.

Today, scientific studies tell us that emotions are an instinctive response designed for survival. These are faster than intellect, and occur due to many physical changes which are preparations for action. The nervous system becomes more energetic, blood changes its chemistry so that it coagulates more quickly, digestion stops, and numerous chemicals are sent in the blood to help the body become ready for everything that must be done. Reason is hesitant, slow and fallible, while emotions are sure, rapid and unhesitating.

There are primary and secondary emotions. Primary emotions are those you are born with, like the need to search for food or the sudden desire to catch something when you feel it falling. And the emotional system can get hung up on anything and everything. If you are a soldier at war, evolution has not formed your brain to throw you to the ground at the slightest gunshot. But once you have made a connection between gunshots and the risk of death, this connection becomes so deep that you don’t even need to think when it happens; your reaction is automatic. These are secondary emotions: connections between things and primary emotions that make reactions automatic.

Fear is a very powerful emotion. During a fear reaction, amygdale in the brain – as opposed to throat amygdale – helps to put in motion a series of incredible, complex events designed to produce a reaction that aids survival, bypassing the intellect. For example, if you are walking up a mountain path and notice something on the ground that looks like a snake, you will stop dead before you have even really registered what is on the ground because the strategy that evolution has fashioned with amygdale is “better be safe than sorry.” Then the neocortex takes over and tells you whether you are looking at a simple stick or an actual snake.

Many pilots, therefore, experience fear when they are in the landing stage – taking off is optional, but landing is a must – and fear in the cockpit is like knights dueling in a telephone booth. Pilots out of necessity develop a very strong secondary emotion associating safety, and even ecstasy with the ground – or the flight deck – and the overwhelming feeling that if only they can get this thing on the ground they will be safe and sound. A pilot develops a physical memory of this feeling, which is a powerful driving force for action coupled with direct experience with a primary emotion. He also has intellectual know-how telling him that if he tries to land, if it is too low or too slow, he could die. Unfortunately, he has no secondary emotions linked to that event since he has never experienced it. It is an abstract concept which cannot fight on equal terms to become a driving force to act upon.

So fear is often a stress trigger. In the case of stress, the brain secretes cortisol, which has many effects, one of the most important being the fact that it erodes our ability to perceive things and constrains our field of vision by targeting only what we think are the most important. And sometimes these are not good things. Therefore sometimes a pilot focuses too much on what he feels is the most important thing: the landing strip. His home. And thus the pilot of the Carl Vinson very well may not have heard the voice of the landing officer and not seen the red lights on the bridge. His body was doing what it knew was best for him: escaping the danger and getting to safety as quickly as possible. The rest of the environment became uninteresting noise efficiently filtered out by his brain.

So he hit the carrier.

 

  • Chapter 4 : A gorilla in our midst (How the brain filters reality, mental models, and the limits of working memory)

As complex as the brain is, the world is even more so. The brain cannot deal with and organize all the facts it receives. It could not define a reasonable plan of action if everything was treated equally and perceived with the same intensity. Thus, the brain must simplify reality and only perceive a part of it in order to be able to deal with it, otherwise it would cave under the weight of the complexity. This is what is difficult about logic: it happens step by step in a linear manner. Reality is not linear.

The brain’s role with respect to reality is similar to that of a search engine with respect to millions of pages that it finds on the internet. Without a powerful search engine you are paralyzed.

One of the brain’s search engines involves emotional book-marks, in which emotions help to direct logic and direct reason towards a place where they can do useful work. A second strategy that the brain uses to manage complicated problems is to create mental models, simplified schema of reality. A mental model can tell you what the rules are for a particular environment or the color and shape of a familiar object.

Magicians use this creation of a temporary mental model in their most subtle tricks, a short term memory of the world. Every world model has its own underlying assumptions based on experience, memory, secondary emotions and emotional book marks, which influence our expectations and what we see and what we plan to do about it. The magician creates a world model then passes from one model to another so quickly that you remain stuck in the first model, and you are surprised by the new reality he shows you. It is the disconnect between the first model and the second model that is surprising. You believe that it’s the magician doing the trick, but in fact you are doing it yourself.

One of the reasons why magic tricks work can be explained by the working memory. The working memory is a temporary memory which manages what we are doing at the moment. It can only manage a few things at one time, maybe half a dozen or so, when new things require our attention, these elements are forgotten. The working memory can also use information from long term memory. The fact that you are able to read this long sentence is the result of your short term memory which is capable of remembering the beginning, the middle and the end of the sentence, while using definitions and associations coming from your long term memory to understand the meaning of the words. It is also the result of the fact that you have created mental models of the words, you have associated to the symbol – the word – a meaning, an image of reality. When you read camel you immediately think of a camel, if you have ever seen a picture of that animal. If you have never seen a picture of that animal, then the meaning that you attribute to this word will depend on knowledge that you have acquired about this subject – perhaps you will classify it in the general category of “animal,” you might associate it with the desert or put it simply in the case of “I don’t know what it is” – and you do this in an instant.

The fact that new information – and in particular emotionally laden information – forces things to leave our working memory means that we cannot pay attention to many things at once. Unless something is transferred successfully to our long term memory, it is lost.

Working memory is therefore our attention. Its limited nature, together with the inevitable failings of the mental models, can cause surprising deficiencies in the way in which we comprehend reality and make conscious or unconscious decisions.

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  • Chapter 5 : Anatomy of an Act of God (the need for humility, the cause for mistakes)

If you distill all the cognitive sciences, psychology and neurosciences over the last hundred years, you will find that we are always Homo but only sometimes Sapiens. We are emotional creatures, which is to say physical creatures. Neurologist Joseph Ledoux concluded that “people do all sorts of things for reasons they are not conscious of…and that is one of the principal jobs of the conscience to make our lives have a coherent manner, in a self concept.” Therefore, each of us is the hero in our own movie.

It is therefore not surprising to note that in many cases the mechanisms underlying survival, which are directly wired in us and sculpted by experience, are revealed not only to be powerful motivation elements pushing us to action, but also work to their maximum which they short circuit conscious mechanisms. Once an emotional reaction has taken hold, this can lead to an imperious desire to act.

But there are many ways to revise the script and adapt to dangerous situations. Training is one. All performers at the top of their profession train hard, and if you follow in their footsteps you are interested in being well trained as well. If we are beginners, we are confronted in mother nature with the same level of difficulty as the experts: she does not adapt herself to our level.

The practice of Zen teaches us that it is impossible to add anything to a teacup filled with water. The same thing is true of our mind. A closed attitude that says “I already know that” can lead us to miss important information. Zen teaches openness. Survival teachers refer to it when they talk about “humility.” Generally, highly skilled performers such as professional rescue personnel have an exceptional personal balance between bravery and humility.

Just being aware of nature’s pitfalls can help; it helps us remember that we are primates with a recent new functionality that is only somewhat tested; the neocortex. What we see as failings in the mind are probably nothing more than nature’s process which is quietly tinkering with simple rules over a long period of evolutionary time. Nature always uses plenty of individuals of all species in her experiments, and we are her ultimate experiment. It’s nothing personal then, when our brains play tricks on us. It’s nothing personal either when we die, as Marc-Aurèle, the philosopher emperor put it.

 

  • Chapter 6 : The sand pile effect (Accidents as a natural effect of systems)

What we call “accidents” do not happen by themselves. People must assemble the framework that makes them happen. Furthermore, nothing can stay happening for a long time. That is how mountains can have the reputation for being easy and well suited for beginning climbers. However accidents do happen, often involving experienced people who have climbed much more difficult mountains.

It was like this in 2002 that a drama unfolded on Mount Hood, a supposedly easy mountain in Oregon. 4 mountain climbers, one of whom was very experienced, arrived at the summit. After enjoying the view, they began their descent, all attached to the same cord, the novice at the bottom and the most experienced at the top. They did not use pitons to attach the cord, it was attached to them. The cord helped hold someone if they fell, but only on condition that the person at the top did not fall. Effectively, the distance between the climbers could be 10 meters (about 32 feet), so that if the person at the top fell, the second would absorb the impact when the first falls 20 meters (twice as long as the cord between the two of them), leading to an impact of such force that the second person would have to fall, and so on. That is why the most experienced person is at the top. They are not supposed to fall.

So on that day, Ward, the experienced mountain climber, slipped and fell. He led the other three in his fall, and this fine group led another two climbers who were down below them, then three more who were making their ascent. The nine of them fell into a crevice. Three died, including Ward.

This kind of accident must happen, as is always the case, to someone somewhere. All the available theories tell us that it is an inevitable part of the system at large that puts climbers on snow-covered slopes in large numbers. In his book Normal Accidents, Charles Perrow defends the idea that in certain types of systems big accidents, while rare, are both normal and inevitable. Accidents are a characteristic of the system itself.

Mountain climbers roped themselves in a team without belaying to anchor themselves all the time. They use axes for support poles while they descend

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Alpiniste utilisant un piolet

Photo par massimobottelli

The accident on Mount Hood involved two big categories of effects: the mechanical system that the climbers were using and the psychology and physiology that contributed to the accident.

In system accidents, unexpected interactions between forces and components are generated naturally by the complexity of the system. This type of accident is made up of conditions, judgments, acts and events that would be inconsequential by themselves; at least if they were not associated with “right time” and “right place,” they would pass unnoticed. So Ward had slipped in the past, but he had always managed to catch himself before a fatal fall. He had also already belayed, but without ever falling to the point of it being useful to him. Thus Charles Perrow observed that most of the time, nothing serious happens, which leads operators – in this case climbers – to believe that the behavior of the system that they see is the only possible state of the system.

When a system is tightly coupled, its effects can expand in an exponential manner. In a system that is loosely coupled or uncoupled, the effects don’t affect other parts of the system. Therefore in a closely arranged row of dominoes there is a strong relationship between the state of an individual domino and the state of all the dominoes: if one falls, all the others will be affected. But if the dominoes are sufficiently well spaced, if one falls there won’t be any consequences for the others.

If the climbers were not attached to each other, the consequences of Ward’s fall would have been much less dramatic. But the accident was, however, no-one’s fault. It was a logical consequence of the self-directed system. So the Mount Hood accident was predictable, but no-one could know which mountain climbers were going to fall, nor where, nor when, nor with what injuries. The climbers were familiar with the system and had a good idea of how it worked, but only of its most common states. This type of huge accident, when it happens, happens very fast and can’t be stopped.

 

  • Chapter 7 : The rules of life (psychological causes of accidents)

There are two environments, two worlds, on Mount Hood. One is designed for the survival and comfort of humans. The other is not. There are mechanical chair lifts, pavilions, and a five star restaurant with its pinot noir and its rosemary crostini. In that place you can look out over thousands of square meters of natural wilderness while sipping your white wine, with an indifference more impudent than any animal would dare to entertain. The mountain is safely contained behind double-paned glass.

But we can only reign over our little model of the world. It is easy to cross this invisible line between that which has been adapted for us and that which requires that we adapt to it. But it is also easy to forget and bring with us this false sense of security that can be fatal for us when we cross the line. So the nine mountain climbers could have taken a little bit of this attitude with them from the pavilion to the mountain. Their success in life, their objectives, their plans and their imaginations took them there. They earned money to do this sort of thing. They earned the reward that their life mastery had bought them. People are part of a mechanical system but they are also a system in themselves.

Risk homeostasis theory states that people accept a certain level of risk and the more you perceive the environment as less risky, the more risks you take and vice versa. Therefore when the ABS breaking system was introduced in cars, the number of accidents overall remained the same because drivers who had them felt safer and took more risks. In the same way, the mountain climbers who have tackled reputedly dangerous mountains with maximum precaution, have a tendency to relax when they are climbing on reputedly safer mountains.

So, as Heraclite put is over 2500 years ago now, “every time we enter a river, it’s a different river.” And every time you hike on Mount Hood, it’s a different mountain. Studies of mountain accidents show that there are three factors that contributed to Mount Hood: 1) the descent, 2) everyone was roped together and 3) no belay. These three factors mean that on a global scale, accidents similar to the one on Mount Hood are very common.

There are three difficulties with the descent:

  1. Attitude
  2. An emotion tied to reaching a goal
  3. Stress

In the first place, the climbers, like many, had celebrated their arrival at the summit. “It was a glorious morning,” one of them recounted, “we had fun up there for half an hour, cracking jokes.” Humor. The tool that gives vent to emotional response. The pitfall they were up against was that they were only half way there. They partied even though the hardest part still awaited them. Mountain climbers are the only athletes to do that. So, it’s a natural part of the cycle of human emotions to let down your guard once you have reached a goal.

So the climbers were at the summit and faced the descent with the 5 star restaurant below them. Suddenly, the positive state of celebration upon arriving at the summit was transformed into the perspective of slowly descending the length of the long slope. Images of previous experiences popped into the minds of all the climbers: they saw themselves sitting quietly in the warm, resting. They saw rest and safety within their grasp: they only had to get down quickly and reach the pavilion as quickly as possible (a warm shower, pinot noir, rosemary crostini). So securing themselves by belaying would be long, annoying and tiring. They were already tired, and had already spent a lot of time climbing. A succession of emotional book marks had already been etched in their minds and one of the book marks reminded them that is was enough to go down one foot in front of the other for safety. Another told them that belaying would mean prolonged pain, thirst, hunger and fatigue. And they had no emotional book mark tied to falling 300 meters, or for the energy that would build up with a rope system if the highest climber fell.

So they had a false sense of security, due to the fact that Mount Hood is reputedly easy, of Ward’s experience, and by the training in self-arrest that they had successfully carried out the day before, and by their discussions on what behaviors to adopt to secure their descent.

Thus, piece by piece, unconscious of the fact that their model of the world was no longer valid, they assembled their accident. And they began the process long before their arrival at Mount Hood.

This kind of accident has to happen. But it does not have to happen for you and me.

More in the next episode 😉 .

Read more reviews of Deep Survival on Amazon.

Translated by www.DeansResource.com

How to Win Friends and Influence People

 How to Win Friends and Influence People

One Sentence Summary: To make friends, influence others and get them in our corner, it is important to know how to look after their ego; this happens after an important change in our everyday behavior, which consists of never criticizing, being genuinely interested in others, smiling, remembering the first name of the person we are speaking with, making them feel important, never telling them they are wrong, talking about our own mistakes before talking about theirs, motivating, sincerely complimenting, and generally always looking after their self esteem.

By Dale Canergie, 1936 (first edition), 1981 (most recently revised edition), 250 pages.

Summary and Book Review:

After GTD, this book is the second best seller of my crazy personal MBA challenge and it is certainly one of the best known. It has sold over 45 million copies around the world since it was first published – a modest printing run of five thousand copies – in 1936. The book has undergone several revisions since the death of the author in 1955, primarily by his wife and his daughter in order to update examples given by the author about famous personalities who were known in 1936 but forgotten since – without changing the heart of the book itself.

The author starts out by entrusting us with 8 rules for getting the best out of the book, which seem to me to be highly relevant and applicable to any number of non-fiction books:

  1. Have a great desire for learning and applying the principles that drive communications and relationships between human beings.
  2. Read every chapter twice before going on to the next one.
  3. Interrupt our readings frequently to ask ourselves about our personal possibilities for applying every principle.
  4. Underline the important ideas.
  5. Re-read the book every month.
  6. Practice the principles whenever the opportunity presents itself.
  7. Transform the book into a fun game: ask our friends to pay a penalty whenever they surprise us by breaking the rules.
  8. Monitor the progress that we make each week. Ask ourselves what mistakes we have made, what progress we have made, what lessons we have learned.

Part One: Three fundamental techniques for handling people

 

  • Chapter 1: If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive

In 1931, Francis “Two Guns” Crowley, a gangster and assassin who was known for having killed a police officer in cold blood after he asked him for his driving license, was arrested in his girlfriend’s apartment after a siege in which one hundred police officers were mobilized! He was taken alive, but, believing he was as good as dead, he had taken the time to write a letter. Was it a letter of repentance, a letter of remorse for the crimes he had committed? No, it said “Under my jacket beats a weary heart, but a good one that would not hurt anyone.”

He was condemned to the electric chair. When he arrived at the execution chamber, was he full of excuses, did he declare that he was experiencing remorse? No. He said “This is my punishment for wanting to defend myself.

Al Capone, the most notorious gangster of all time, himself said: “I have spent the best years of my life giving pleasure to people and amusing them, and what has been my reward? Insults and the life of a hunted man.” Often, gangsters, criminals and wrongdoers justify their behavior with a whole lot of logical or fallacious reasoning.

If criminals as notorious as Francis Crowley or Al Capone consider themselves innocent, what do the people we meet every day who are just like you and me think of themselves?

This is a universal law that is sometimes difficult to accept: 99 times out of 100, man considers himself innocent, no matter how serious his crime. Criticism is therefore useless because it puts the individual on the defensive and forces him to justify himself, and it is dangerous because it damages their self esteem and causes bitterness. Criticism is like a carrier pigeon: the person we want to blame and correct will do anything to justify himself and will condemn us in return. Or, often, they exclaim: “I don’t see how I could have acted any differently!”

When you study the lives of those considered great leaders of men, like Abraham Lincoln – who Dale Carnegie studied in a very thorough manner, even wrote a biography, Lincoln the Unknown – you generally notice that they handle criticism with extreme caution and do everything to preserve the self esteem of those they reproach.

Rather than condemn people, it is better to try and understand them, to discover the motive for their actions. This is much nicer and more productive than criticizing, and it makes us more tolerant, understanding, and good.

Principal # 1: Don’t criticize, don’t condemn and don’t complain

 

  • Chapter 2 : The big secret of dealing with people

There is only one way in the world to get someone to do something: you must excite in them the desire to do it. Obviously, it is always possible to use force, authority or blackmail, but these methods have way more disadvantages than advantages. It is only by giving you what you want that I will manage to get you to do something.

So, what are our needs? In a list that somewhat resembles Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Dale Carnegie lists the different needs that we claim with ceaseless insistence:

  1. Health and preservation of life
  2. Food
  3. Sleep
  4. Money and the means to procure it
  5. Future survival
  6. Sexual satisfaction
  7. Our children’s happiness
  8. A sense of being important

Very often, most of these needs are met, but there is one that is rarely satisfied, because it is just as deep, and just a imperative as hunger. It is what Freud referred to as “the desire to be recognized,” what William James talks about as “the deepest principal of human nature,” and that is the thirst for appreciation, recognition, to be considered important. This desire distinguishes man from the animals, in which it does not exist.

It is this desire for importance that has driven many men who were poor at birth, to realize a glorious destiny, like Lincoln, Dickens or Rockefeller, it is this desire that drives men to buy cars that are too big for their needs or a house that is much to huge for them.

Tell me how you fulfill this need, and I will tell you who you are. The way in which we fill this need is one of the traits that best characterizes our personality. Some people fulfill it by turning to crime, like the notorious French Bonnot Gang, others write great works of literature, or build commercial empires or help others with all their might, until their dying breath. History is full of amusing details about famous people who try to show their importance, from George Washington, who demanded to be called the “Greatest President of the United States,” to Victor Hugo who wanted to donate his name to the city of Paris.

Note: And you just have to stroll through the Père Lachaise cemetery and read the epitaphs to understand that this need for importance accompanied many men even in death.

So, what is the best way to give a person the importance they seek so much? It is by complimenting them. It is not a matter here of flattery, false or otherwise, which is dangerous and often ends up coming back to bite the sycophant. It is a matter of a new mental attitude, of a new way of life: finding the good qualities in others and sincerely complimenting them, making them aware of the admiration we have for them. Sincere praise is the honey of human relations – everyone seeks it and deeply appreciates it.

Principal # 2: Compliment sincerely and honestly

  • Chapter 3: He who can do this this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way

Why are we always talking about what we want? It’s vain, childish and absurd. Obviously, each of us is interested in what we want. We will be interested in it for eternity. But we will be the only ones thinking about it. Everyone else is just like us in this regard and worry only about what they think.

That’s why the only way to influence your neighbor is to talk to him about what he wants and show him that he can get it.

This is the secret of success: putting yourself in someone else’s place and thinking about things from both his point of view and ours. Because action is born out of our fundamental desires, and to influence others you must first excite in them an ardent desire to act.

Principal # 3: Motivate often to do what you propose.

Part Two: Six ways to make people like you

  • Chapter 4: Do this and you’ll be welcome anywhere

Do you like dogs? If you do, why? Does it by any chance have something to do with the fact dogs are completely loyal, love you spontaneously and sincerely, and make a big fuss over you when you come home? Do you like it when they jump up on you wagging their tail, with their tongue hanging out, before the door is fully open, losing themselves completely in welcoming you?

We all know people who try their whole lives to get people interested in them. Wasted effort! People are only interested in themselves. They think about themselves morning, noon and night. When you look at a photo of a group that you are part of, who do you look at first?

If you want people to be interested in you, you must first be interested in them. Whether we are a beggar or a king, we like those who admire us.

Do you want people to like you? Then write down anniversaries on your calendar and send a card, welcome people with warmth and enthusiasm on the telephone, show your admiration and your sincere interest when opportunity presents itself. Publius Syrus said it over two thousand years ago:

We are interested in others when they are interested in us.

As with all the advice in this book, this must be applied with total sincerity. This way you might even touch the the heart of the most powerful and unreachable person.

Principal # 4: Be genuinely interested in others

 

  • Chapter 5 : A simple way to make a good first impression

Actions speak louder than words. A smile says: “I like you,” “I am happy to see you,” “Your presence makes me happy,” etc. Obviously, it needs to be a sincere, wide and spontaneous smile that seduces and comforts, not a mechanical and false smile that irritates instead of pleasing.

The most striking example of the effect of a sincere smile is the smile of a child :

.

 Smile of a children

Photo by Julien Lagarde

Often it communicates to us and can change our grimmest mood in an instant, whenever we smile back.

A smile is so important that it is can also be heard in our voice. Your telephone voice will change if you smile; try it and see 🙂

Try this: For one week, once an hour, smile your widest, sincerest smile possible, be nice to others, appreciate their company, because we must be happy in the company of our peers if we want them to be happy in ours. If this is difficult for you, tell yourself that it is just one week and you can stop after that if you don’t like it 😉

Principal # 5 : Have a smile

 

  • Chapter 6 : If you don’t do this you are headed for trouble

James Farley, a famous American politician, has succeeded in becoming a cornerstone of American politics, depended on for decades, even though he was born to a poor family of farmers, even though he lost his father at age 10 and had to start working at that age on a construction site, pushing wheelbarrows full sand and letting bricks dry in the sun. When Dale Carnegie asked him his secret, he replied that he could remember the first name of over five thousand people, as well as the details of each of their lives.

He was Roosevelt’s electoral agent. He had a simple and remarkable system: whenever he met a new person he researched their first and last name – with its exact spelling – and carefully engraved the details in his mind, then he was able to greet this person by his first name by cross-referencing them later – sometimes years later.

Jim Farley knew that everyone likes his own name better than any other name on earth. If you can remember someone’s name, you pay its owner a subtle and appreciated compliment. But if you forget it, mispronounce it or misspell it, you might upset someone or greatly displease them. Men are proud of their name and try to perpetuate it at all costs.

In general, if we forget names, it’s because we simply don’t take the time to write them down, repeat them, and engrave them permanently in our minds. This takes work and requires a certain amount of time, but the reward is definitely worth the effort.

Principal # 6: Remember a person’s name so that they are important

 

  • Chapter 7 : An easy way to become a good conversationalist

How do you succeed with the person you are talking with? How do you convince him and reach a good understanding with him? It’s no mystery: to win someone over, put him in a good mood, and get him in your corner, you must give him your full attention when he expresses himself. Nothing is more flattering.

To do this, you must know how to listen sincerely, and show it.

This also works with unhappy people, including customers. Often, unhappy customers who complain are deeply hurt themselves because someone has made them feel one way or another that they are not important. If you succeed in showing them that they are important in your eyes, then often their complaint will go away by itself.

On the other hand, if you want to know what to do to get people to run from you, mock you behind you back, or despise you, it’s easy: don’t listen to what other people say; only talk about yourself. If an idea comes to you when someone else is talking, don’t wait until they are finished. What good will it do anyway? In any case, what they are saying can’t be as interesting and brilliant as what you are going to say. Go on, really, cut them off mid-sentence.

But if you want your conversation to be appreciated, learn how to listen: to be interesting, be interested. Ask stimulating, agreeable questions, ask them about their life, what they have done. Remember that the person you are talking to is a hundred times more interested in his toothache than in the famine that was responsible for thousands of deaths in China.

Principal # 7: Learn to listen. Encourage others to talk about themselves

 

  • Chapter 8 : How to get people to like you instantly

To find the way to man’s heart you must bring him what he prizes the most

To discover what interests someone, what he is passionate about, all you have to do is stop and listen with interest while he explains to you everything you want to know.

Principal # 8 : Talk to people about what they are interested in

 

  • Chapter 9 : How to make people like you instantly

There is a primordial law that we must respect in our relationships with others. If we observe it, we will win friendship and happiness. If we violate it, we will give rise to numerous difficulties in our wake. Here it is: Make others feel important.

You respect those around you, you wish them to do justice to your merits, and you like very much feeling important in your own circle. You hate excessive flattery, but adore sincere praise, you want to be respected, encouraged, complimented. We all aspire to that.

Principal 9 : Make others feel important and do it sincerely

Part Three: Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking

 

  • Chapter 10 : You can’t win an argument

In his youth, Dale Carnegie adored controversy.

He studied logic and argument in college, never missed the opportunity to participate in contradictory debates, and even directed a dialectic course as a result, and made the project about writing on a subject… Then, after having attended and participated in thousands of discussions, he analyzed them and drew one conclusion: the best way to carry on a controversy is to avoid it. Nine times out of ten, everyone leaves the debate being even more certain that they are right.

Effectively, nobody wins these battles! Because if you lose, you lose and if you win, you also lose because you have proven to your adversary that he is wrong, you have made him feel inferior, you have hurt his self esteem and his pride. So,

A man convinced against his will
Always keeps his own opinion.

You must therefore choose: a spectacular and theoretic triumphant, or sincere agreement. The two rarely go together. You may well be right, a hundred times right, if you have to fight prove it and change your adversaries mind, your efforts will as useless as if you were wrong.

But what should you do then if there is disagreement? The idea is to welcome the dispute. The dispute is an opportunity to enrich yourself, to discover a new point of view that had not occurred to you before. Here is advice in such a situation:

  • Don’t give in to your first impulse.
  • Overcome your anger.
  • Begin by listening.
  • Find common ground.
  • Be honest.
  • Promise to think about the ideas of your adversaries, and study them carefully.
  • Sincerely thank your adversaries for their interest.
  • Adjourn your actions to allow both parties present the time to examine the problem in detail.

Principal # 10: Avoid controversy, unless you can come out on top.

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  • Chapter 11: A sure way of making enemies and how to avoid it.

When Theodore Roosevelt was the President of the United States, he admitted that he couldn’t be sure he was right more than 75% of the time. That was the outer limit of his potential. If that is the degree that such a successful man could attain, then what is it for you and me?

Actually, if we could be sure of being right even 50% of the time, all that would be left to do would be to install ourselves on Wall Street and earn a million dollars a day. But if we can’t achieve this percentage, why do we allow ourselves to state that others are wrong?

So don’t ever begin a sentence with “I will prove that to you” or “I can show that…” because that comes out as “I am smarter than you, and I am going to change your mind,” that can only hurt someone’s self esteem without changing their mind. It is actually difficult, even under favorable conditions, to change other people’s opinion, so why present obstacles and add even more difficulty?

If someone states something that you think is wrong, wouldn’t it be better to start with: Listen, I don’t see it the same way as you but I might be wrong. That happens to me a lot. If I am wrong, I will change my mind… Let’s take a look together, would you mind?

This type of phrasing is magic because no-one can object to “I might be wrong, let’s take a look together.” Who can find anything to say about that? Therefore no-one will ever be annoyed with you if you promptly admit that you are subject to error.

Here is an excerpt from the book “The Mind in the Making” by James Harvey Robinson to learn more:

[Translator’s note: The book excerpt is translated from the French version, so the text may not match the English version of the book exactly]

We can spontaneously modify our opinions effortlessly and without emotion. But if someone tells us that we are wrong, we revolt against the accusation and instantly adopt a defensive attitude. We form our convictions lightly, but the instant anyone threatens to snatch them from us, we develop a fierce passion for them. Obviously, it is not so much our ideas as it is our self esteem that we fear is in danger…

Principal #11: Respect others’ opinions. Never tell people they are wrong.

  • Chapter 12: If you’re wrong, admit it.

      One day, the author was walking his dog off the leash in a park, which was not allowed. He came face to face with a mounted policeman who, after a sharp reprimand, told him never to come back. A week later, Dale Carnegie came across the same policeman, in the exact same circumstances. What did he do? He rushed up to the policeman and overwhelmed him with apologies, and reminded him that he had promised to fine him if he did it again. The policeman’s reply was mellow, Dale Carnegie insisted that he was at fault, and finally the policeman let him off the hook.

      Because the policeman, like all of us, was only a man; what he wanted was confirmation of his own importance. When Dale Carnegie confessed, the only thing left for the policeman to do to maintain his own self esteem was to adopt a magnanimous attitude.

      When we know that we deserve a dressing down, isn’t it better to take the initiative bravely and make our mea culpa? If we inflict blame on ourselves, isn’t it more acceptable that way than from someone else’s mouth?

      Principal #12: If you are wrong, admit it promptly and energetically.

      • Chapter 13: A drop of honey

          Aesop, a greek slave from the seventh century BC, has explained the point of this chapter once before:

          One day, the wind and the sun were arguing over who was the strongest. The wind said:

          – I am going to prove that I am. You see that old man down there? I bet that I can make him take his coat off faster than you can.

          Upon which the sun disappeared behind a cloud and the wind started to blow like a hurricane. But the harder it blew, the more the man cinched his coat around him. Finally, the wind became tired and stopped blowing. Then, the sun came out from behind a cloud and smiled gently to the traveler. Soon he started to feel warm; he wiped his forehead and took off his coat.

          The sun then remarked to the wind that sweetness and kindness are always stronger than violence and fury.

          Principal #13: Begin on a friendly note.

          • Chapter 14: The Secret of Socrates

              When you want to win someone over, avoid raising issues that you don’t agree with, from the very start. Focus instead on things you identify with and emphasize those. The point is to show that you have goals in common, and disagree only on the means to reach them, and to do that, say “yes” as early as possible, and above all try to avoid having them say “no.”

              Because as Dr Overstreet says in his book “The Art of influencing the human condition:”

              A negative response is a difficult obstacle to overcome. When someone says “no,” his pride causes him to remain steadfast in his opinion[…]. Later, he may figure out that it was an unjustified no. Too bad! He cannot retract it; he must above all look out for his self esteem. That’s why it is extremely important to start out, from the beginning, with the person you are talking to in the right direction: that of agreement.

              […]

              When someone says “no” sincerely and with conviction, they can do no more than articulate those two letters. […] Their whole being is on the defensive, the whole neuro-muscular system is alerted against agreeing.

              On the other hand, when someone says “yes,” their body takes on a consenting, receptive attitude. Consequently, the more we can get people to say yes, the more we succeed in putting someone in a favorable mood towards our proposition.

              Principal #14: Ask questions that will lead to saying yes immediately.

              • Chapter 15: The safety valve in handling complaints

                  Most people say too much when they are trying to persuade someone. Let the other person vent. He knows his problems and his business better than you. Ask him questions and let him express himself. This produces good results in professional relationships as well as between friends and family.

                  Principal # 15 : Make the person you are talking to feel completely comfortable speaking.

                  • Chapter 16: How to get cooperation

                      Don’t we trust the ideas that we think of by ourselves more than those are handed to us ready to go on a silver platter? If that’s true, isn’t it clumsy to try and impose our opinions at all costs? Isn’t it wiser to make some clever suggestions and leave the other person to draw his own conclusions?

                      Twenty five centuries ago, Lao-Tsu, a wise man from China said that the reason why rivers and seas are graced with certain mountain streams is because they keep a low profile. They can thus reign over all the mountain streams. The wise man, who wants to be above others, puts himself below them; if he wants to be in front, sets himself behind. Thus, if his place is above others, they don’t feel his weight; if his place is in front, they are not hurt.

                      Principal #16: Allow the person you are talking to the pleasure of thinking it was his idea.

                      • Chapter 17: A formula that will work wonders for you.

                          Even if your neighbor is wrong, he doesn’t think he’s wrong. Don’t condemn him. The first fool that comes along can condemn him. Rather, try to understand him. Those who would be wise are tolerant and even exceptional.

                          Actually, your neighbor has a reason for thinking and acting as he does. Find out the hidden reason and you will understand the secret to his behavior, and probably to his personality.

                          Think about the difference that exists between the passionate interest that you have for your own business and the luke warm attention that you pay to the rest of the word. Ponder, and ponder deeply on the fact that everyone in the world experiences the same thing as you. If you can understand that, then you can considerably perfect the art of leading men.

                          Principal #17: Make a real effort to see things from the other person’s point of view.

                          • Chapter 18: What everybody wants

                              Wouldn’t you like to know a magic phrase that lets you avoid arguments, dissipates bitterness, stimulates good will and motivates others to listen to you carefully?

                              Yes? Well then, it does exist. Here is it:

                              “I understand completely where you are coming from, if I was you I would probably feel the same.”

                              Try it and you will see 😉

                              Principal #18: Welcome kindly the ideas and desires of others.

                              • Chapter 19: Appeal that everybody likes

                                  Everyone we meet has a high opinion of himself and wants to appear noble and generous in their own eyes. Therefore, individuals generally have two reasons for their behavior: one which makes him look good, and the real one. An individual understands the second one very well, but he prefers to put his most worthy reasons out in front.

                                  So, to influence others it is better to appeal to their most noble intentions. For fear of shattering the idealist image they have of themselves, they will be more motivated to respond to your pleas.

                                  Note : The desire to show only the most noble motivation is not only strong to protect their self image, but also the image they wish to project to others.

                                  Principal #19: Appeal to higher feelings.

                                  • Chapter 20: The movies do it. TV does it. Why don’t you do it?

                                      At the beginning of the last century, a newspaper was the object of vicious rumors that effectively said that the paper had too many advertisements and not enough text; that it was no longer interesting to its readers, etc. They needed to act fast to halt the devastating rumors. But how? The staff of the newspaper had a good idea: they would cut all the text that wasn’t advertising from one edition, and publish it in the form of a book, they would call it “One Day.” The book, which was 307 pages long, would go for average price, because the paper was sold at only a fraction of the usual price of a book.

                                      The publication highlighted the lies and rumors, and appealed to people in a more convincing and more attractive way than a whole pile of figures and arguments.

                                      Principal #20: Show off your ideas spectacularly. Appeal to both sight and imagination.

                                      • Chapter 21: When nothing else works try this

                                          The need to excel and compete are two extremely powerful drivers for the human spirit. To get results, create competition, not for the sake of winning, but to lubricate in a noble way the desire to do one’s best, to outdo others and to excel.

                                          Principal #21: Present a challenge.

                                          Part Four – Be a leader: how to change people without living offensively or arousing resentment

                                          • Chapter 22: If you must find fault, this is the way to begin

                                              It involves an obvious process, but it gets results; it less painful for us to receive unpleasant comments after a compliment about our ability.

                                              Principal #22: Start out with sincere praise.

                                              • Chapter 23: How to criticize and not be hated for it

                                                  One day, a senior person in a steel factory was walking the floors. He ran across a group of workers smoking. Just above their heads was a sign on which was written “no smoking.” What do you think the person did? Did he mouth off at these people yelling “Don’t you know how to read?” No. He approached them, offered each of them a cigar and said “I would like it if you went to smoke these cigars outside.”

                                                  How do you think the workers felt? They were in violation and they knew he knew it. Instead of punishing them, he offered them a gift and didn’t say a thing to reproach them. He had made them feel important. Who couldn’t like a man like that?

                                                  With reasonable people who would suffer under direct criticism, draw attention to their mistakes indirectly, and you will work wonders.

                                                  Principal #23: Comment on mistakes or errors indirectly.

                                                  • Chapter 24: Talk about your own mistakes first

                                                      By acknowledging our own mistakes, even if we have not corrected them, we can help others to change their behavior. A few humble words can greatly help to deliver the bitter pill of criticism .

                                                      Principal #24: Mention your own mistakes befote correcting those of other people.

                                                      • Chapter 25: Nobody likes to take orders

                                                          An order which is too brusque can cause someone longlasting offense, even if the order is justified. Instead, ask questions such as “Could you take a look at this?” or “Do you think this would be okay?” or “Would you do this?” Asking questions doesn’t just make orders more palatable, it also stimulates the other person’s creativity. People accept orders more readily if they have been part of the initial decision.

                                                          Principal #25: Ask questions rather than giving direct orders.

                                                          • Chapter 26: Let the other person save face

                                                              Here is how Saint Exupéry put it:

                                                              I don’t have the right to say or do something that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What counts is not what I think of him, but what he thinks of himself. Hurting a man’s dignity is a crime.

                                                              Principal #26: Let the person you are speaking with save face.

                                                              • Chapter 27: How to spur people on to success

                                                                  Psychologist Jess Lair wrote the following:

                                                                  Praise is like sunshine for the human spirit. We cannot flourish without it. However, most of use are ready to blow the cold wind of criticism on others, rather than warm their heart with a compliment.

                                                                  So, let’s acknowledge the progress, however slight it is, of those we wish to encourage. That’s how we will motivate them, how we will get them to pursue their efforts.

                                                                  Principal #27: Praise the smallest progress and praise any progress. Do it warmly and generously.

                                                                  • Chapter 28: Give a dog a good name

                                                                      For this, there is nothing better than complimenting someone on their potential or their past coups, and asking them if they think they will get back to that initial level or reach their full potential.

                                                                      Principal #28: Give a good reputation to the deserving.

                                                                      • Chapter 29: Making the fault seem easy to correct

                                                                          Tell your colleague, your child or your coworker that they are stupid, that they are not cut out for such work, or such a game, that they are doing badly, that they don’t understand anything, etc, and you will destroy any desire they have to excel. But try it the opposite way: Give generous encouragement; make it so the task to be accomplished appears easy, let them know you are behind them, that you have confidence in their abilities, tell them they have untapped talent… and they will use it all day long if necessary.

                                                                          Principal #29: Encourage. Make errors seem easy to fix.

                                                                          • Chapter 30: Making people glad to do what you want

                                                                              To change someone’s attitude or behavior, it is useful to keep the following points in mind:

                                                                              1. Be sincere. Don’t make false promises. Forget your own interests and focus on the interest of the other person.
                                                                              2. Make sure you know exactly what you want the person to do.
                                                                              3. Put yourself in the other person’s place.
                                                                              4. Think about the benefits that the other person will get out of doing what you want them to do.
                                                                              5. Make sure these benefits line up with what the other person wants.
                                                                              6. When you make an offer, structure it in such a way that the other person understands that he will benefit personally.

                                                                              Principal #30: Make others happy to do what you suggest.

                                                                              Book Review:

                                                                              I am pleased that I read this book. It has been on my list of books to read for years (which has become significantly larger since my Readers have been sending me suggestions! 😉 and I finally found the opportunity to pick it up. As to the format, this book is written in a simple, accessible way. Dale Carnegie seems to write as he Speaks, staying very concrete, concise and relevant, and using many examples from real life – what am I saying? – a plethora of examples – of which you have only a small sample in this summary. These examples might seem dated – they date from the Civil War to the Second World War for the most part – but they are extremely varied, from a president, a king and an emperor, all the way to factory directors, finance magnates or workers. They allow us to get into the concepts very easily and understand how to apply them on a daily basis.

                                                                              Regarding content, I found this book extremely interesting, because of the primordial importance it accords to the ego and self esteem. Dale Carnegie puts the deeply emotional nature of human beings first, and the whole book is centered on these two primordial concepts:

                                                                              1. No matter what they say, men and women are above all emotional beings with a vital need to look kindly on themselves.

                                                                              2. No matter how rational an argument might be, they will reject it most of the time if their self esteem is hurt.

                                                                              Once you understand these two concepts, most of the principles of the book are simple to understand. All you have to do is apply them. The eight pieces of advice that Carnegie gives at the beginning of this book – and that could easily be applied to almost all the Personal MBA books – are, I think, a good beginning for implementing. As with everything, this advice must be applied in moderation, otherwise I think we could become machines generating consensus, which would be a bit bland and hypocritical. I also think that a good Kick in the rear can produce better results than all the diplomacy in the world. But Carnegie’s approach doesn’t consist of adopting mechanical tricks to artificially increase his influence, it consists of understanding the two concepts presented above, and internalizing them to transform our point of view with regard to human relationships and remaining watchful so that the other person comes out on top, or at least free, in our arguments, confrontations and other issues.

                                                                              It’s a huge program. I am sure that human relationships would be a bit smoother if everyone applied the principles in this book. What’s more, it’s an excellent introduction to the ideas of ego and self esteem, and a point of departure for me with certain questions: why is it so important to us to maintain the vision of ourselves intact, and the way that we think of ourselves even though very often we “form our opinions lightly?” Why do we favor a comfortable vision even though it is false, to the truth? What is ego? Self esteem? Are they deeply human and therefore universal, greatly influenced by society or not? In short, great, interesting questions but which require sometime to be understood J

                                                                              I therefore recommend this book. It’s excellent, may change the way in which we look at human relationships and is easy to read. A must have.

                                                                                Strong points:

                                                                                • Clear and concise
                                                                                • Written simply and is easy to read
                                                                                • Numerous examples covering a wide variety of situations
                                                                                • Strong, relevant, fundamental concepts
                                                                                • Many principles that can be applied or internalized

                                                                                Weak Points:

                                                                                • The examples are a little dated (from the Civil War to the Second World War primarily)
                                                                                • A little redundant at times

                                                                                Translated by www.DeansResource.com

                                                                                    My rating: image image imageimageimageimageimageimage image

                                                                                    Have you read this book? How do you rate it?

                                                                                    Mediocre - No interestReasonable - One or two interesting paragraphsIntermediate - Some goods ideasGood - Had changed my life on one practical aspectVery Good - Completely changed my life ! (7 votes, average: 4.57 out of 5)
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                                                                                    Read more reviews on how to win friends on Amazon.

                                                                                    PMBA Challenge:

                                                                                    Cost of book:€ 5
                                                                                    Total cost of project: 222.77
                                                                                    Number of pages:250
                                                                                    Total number of pages:3311
                                                                                    Time to read book:3H
                                                                                    Time to write this article:6H
                                                                                    Total time for the project:123H30

                                                                                    Buy this book on Amazon :

                                                                                     

                                                                                  • 9 Concepts to learn more about and to develop your Productivity and your Creativity

                                                                                    Note : This article is the third in a series of articles concluding my reading of ten books in the category Productivity & Effectiveness in my Crazy Personal MDA Challenge, after 10 Things You Can Do Tomorrow To Increase Your Productivity and 10 Exceptionals Books about Productivity and Creativity in a Glance .

                                                                                    Contrary to the first article in the series which focused on simple things that can be implemented, here I deal with concepts that seem to me to be profound and interesting, and that require, for the most part, reflection and time to learn more and then use them. Often, these are the foundational concepts in the books from which I drew them – even though there are some that don’t come directly from the ten books in the category – and I think that they all have the potential to change our view of the world with regard to their subject matter. Here they are without further ado:

                                                                                    1 – We are all more efficient when our mind is free of parasitic thoughts that endlessly invade it. When we reach a state of absolute concentration, where we are completely focused on the task at hand, we are capable of miracles, that is to say, of doing things more quickly and efficiently that we could have imagined. It is a state in which we can choose to dedicate ourselves completely to our tasks, without the slightest interruption, parasitic thought, daydream or other source of distraction, while remaining absorbed and in full possession of our faculties. A dream, is it not? It is what practitioners of martial arts call “mind like water” (Mizu-no-kokoro), and athletes call “being in the zone,” or psychologists the flow. Moments like this have no doubt occurred in your life. Were you performing, more satisfied with yourself and your accomplishments? No doubt you were.

                                                                                    It is possible to cultivate habits that allow you to reach this state frequently, to develop a system. GTD recommends a system completely based on writing in order to free our mind from all the thoughts that endlessly interrupt our concentration. Matthieu Ricard, in The Art of Meditation, tells us this is the best way to develop a more attentive mind, conscious of the present moment, free of all emotions and negative thoughts. There are no doubt many other ways to reach this state of mind, and the fact that it is described in multiple disciplines shows clearly that it is an important universal concept and that we will benefit by learning more about it.

                                                                                    To learn more:

                                                                                    2 – It takes years and years to completely master an art, a discipline, or a subject. To become a true master in a field, if that’s your goal, is a bottomless well that you never truly reach.

                                                                                    (more…)

                                                                                    10 Exceptionals Books about Productivity and Creativity in a Glance

                                                                                    So I just finished the Productivity & Effectiveness category of my crazy Personal MBA Challenge. Here is the list of the ten books with a quick resume and what I think about it so you can know in a glance if this book can be helpful for you 😉 .

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Creativity

                                                                                    The Creative Habit - Learn it and use it for life

                                                                                    One Sentence Summary:

                                                                                    Creativity is learned, nourished and maintained; for inspiration to flow through us and spring forth from the mind, you must prepare, have rituals that invoke it, to know our creative DNA – what we are made for, use our memory and connect disparate things with each other, organize work documents so that we always know where to find them, know how to scratch the surface of things to extract the essential, use the accidents and incidents that that appear in our life, have an idea-base which serves as a backbone for our creation, use our talents wisely, recognize roadblocks and the moments that overtake us, know how to fail, and pace ourselves over the long term – to the very end.

                                                                                    Strong Points:

                                                                                    • Good book, in which the pleasant format judiciously adds value to the contents.
                                                                                    • Packed with ideas, tricks and ways to develop and maintain creativity.
                                                                                    • Full of practical exercises and practially inexhaustible.
                                                                                    • Twyla Tharp tells us about numerous relevant personal experiences

                                                                                    Weak Points:

                                                                                    • A bit too much emphasis on purely artistic creativity.
                                                                                    • Some passages are not believable showing a certain lack of scientific knowledge in the author.
                                                                                    • Book is a bit too packed and crowded at times.

                                                                                    My score : Rating white RatingwhiteRatingwhiteRatingwhiteimage

                                                                                    Read more reviews about The Creative Habit on Amazon.

                                                                                    Buy this book on Amazon :

                                                                                     

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                                                                                    10 Things You Can Do Tomorrow To Increase Your Productivity

                                                                                    10 books about Productivity & Effectiveness in 14 weeks, that’s a lot. Too much for me to be able to apply as much as I would like to after reading them. This is the main hurdle of my crazy Personal MBA Challenge, and I knew this from the beginning. Fortunately, one of the things that motivated me to try this adventure anyway was that every book has ideas and tricks that are immediately applicable, without having to wait a while before putting them to work or going more in depth with them.

                                                                                    Here, I am giving you 10 from among those that seemed to me the most relevant, with a link to a summary of the book in which I found them:

                                                                                    1. If something requires less than two minutes to do, do it immediately. This will increase your productivity considerably without much effort because if something takes less than two minutes 1) it takes almost as long put it into a to-do list than to complete it, 2) given that it is small, these things can quickly add up to a number that is hard to manage, 3) bog your mind down uselessly when they are not on a to-do list and 4) not doing them can have consequences that are disproportionate with regard to the time it takes to complete them. Be careful all the same, sometimes you must map out large spans of time to focus on a project, time which cannot afford to suffer interruptions.

                                                                                    2. Try this trick when you can’t sleep at night. Lack of sleep is a terrible way to lose productivity, as well as the reason for being out of sorts, in a mad mood, lack of focus and other maladies which can have even more dramatic consequences on our relationships with others. To fight against occasional insomnia – for chronic insomnia, it is better to seek medical treatment – try this trick to free your mind and stem the continuous flow of thoughts which begin to invade it:

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                                                                                    Making Things Happen – 2

                                                                                    Making Things Happen - Maîtriser le Management de Projet

                                                                                    Note: because this book is both heavy and complex, I am publishing the summary in two parts. Here is the second part, the first part is here.

                                                                                    Summary and Book Review, second part:

                                                                                     

                                                                                    • Chapter 9 : Communication and relationships

                                                                                    For a long time during our civilization, the slowness of communications posed several problems. Many disasters and misunderstandings arose from this situation. Today, communication is still important, but two things have changed:

                                                                                    • Speed is no longer the main problem (what could be faster than an instant message?) Instead, it is quality and efficiency of communication that have assumed primary importance.
                                                                                    • Communication is not enough for complex work; you also need effective relationships between people who work together.

                                                                                    Even though there are often clearly defined leaders who sometimes give orders, projects depend heavily on the team’s ability to use each other’s knowledge, to share ideas and to work in a synchronized way, as opposed to being based on overly strict lines of authority, rigorous discipline and the need to follow orders without asking questions.

                                                                                    Because project leads spend a lot of time communicating with individuals and groups, they have more responsibilities that require them to communicate effectively with respect to the team. This does not require the extrovert personality of a TV presenter, an extraordinary sense of humor or magical powers (although they may help). Rather, it starts by admitting that communication and interpersonal skills are critical for success, and that there is room for improvement for you and your team.

                                                                                    Additionally:

                                                                                    • Projects are not accomplished by communication alone. In these modern times, speed is not the Achilles heel of communication. Quality is.
                                                                                    • Interpersonal relationships improve and accelerate communication.
                                                                                    • There are several types of communication that people use to communicate with each other. Project managers must be familiar with them in order to be able to diagnose and resolve communication problems.
                                                                                    • There are numerous common communication problems, like assumptions, lack of clarity, not listening, personal attacks or blame.
                                                                                    • Role Definition is the easiest way to improve interpersonal relationships.
                                                                                    • Ask people what they need to do a better job. Ways of doing so include: listening, removing barriers, teaching and reminding them of the objectives.
                                                                                    • Relationships between people and communication are not low priority efforts. They are essential to all individual activities that take place during a project.

                                                                                    Exercise :

                                                                                    Make two ordered lists, one with the most important people on your team, the other with those on your team with whom you have the best relationship. Find opportunities in the two lists to improve your relationships; if you could improve your relationships by 25%, what would be the biggest impact to your project?

                                                                                     

                                                                                    • Chapter 10 : How not to annoy people, process, email and meetings

                                                                                    The bigger your team, the more likely the chances of annoyting someone. Whenever you are following someone else’s work, or making decisions that impact others, you have the potential to annoy them. If you are smart, you will find ways to minimize disagreements. People will be happier, the project will go more smoothly, and you will have fewer black looks when you pass people in the hallways.

                                                                                    The three activities that annoy people the most are email, meetings and team processes (like build or specification procedures).

                                                                                    Additionally:

                                                                                    • Project managers are inclined to annoy others. Some things could be avoided.
                                                                                    • People get annoyed for many reasons. Often it when they believe their time has been wasted, when they are treated like idiots, or when they are expected to put up with a prolonged annoyance or poor treatment.
                                                                                    • Good processes have many positive effects, which include accelerated progress and the prevention of problems. But they are difficult to develop.
                                                                                    • An email which is not annoyting is concise and actionable (it contains an action), and it quickly allows readers to figure out if they care enough to read more than the email header or the first sentence.
                                                                                    • Meetings are conducted well when someone runs them.
                                                                                    • Frustrating meetings result when the objectives are not suited to that type of meeting.

                                                                                    Exercise:

                                                                                    When was the last time you complimented someone for their clear, simple emails? Next week, every day, thank the person who sends you the clearest, most effective email.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    • Chapter 11 : What to do when things go wrong

                                                                                    No matter what you do, no matter how hard you work, or who you work with, things will sometimes go wrong. The best team in the world, with the best leaders, workers, resources and the best morale, will find itself in difficult situations. The only way to completely avoid difficult situations is not to do anything important or to put yourself permanently into situations or projects in which you are protected from all forms of risk – two things which rarely contribute to success.

                                                                                    Good project managers must therefore be prepared to manage difficult situations. That requires a certain amount of wisdom to understand that when bad things happen, it is what it is. There is nothing you can do after the fact to change it. Instead, how the team reacts to adversity can be a more important factor to success than the team’s ability to prevent problems. Both are important but resilience and recovery are the abilities that give you the ability to manage the possible unknown. Without them, the best team and the best plan can spiral out of control with the slightest push in the wrong direction.

                                                                                    Additionally:

                                                                                    • If you can remain calm and break the problem into smaller pieces, you can manage many difficult situations.
                                                                                    • There are some actual situations that you can anticipate, like errors due to not paying attention, being forced to do stupid things, lack of resources, poor quality, a change in direction, personnel problems, and the desire to mutiny.
                                                                                    • Difficult times are learning opportunities. Make sure that you and your team take the time to analayze what happened and how it could have been avoided.
                                                                                    • Taking responsibility for situations, without worrying about who caused them, always helps to resolve them more quickly.
                                                                                    • In extreme situations, put yourself in “damage control mode.” Do whatever is needed to get the project back into a stable state where it is understood.
                                                                                    • Negotiations are not only useful in crisis situations, but also for managing. Good negotiators work towards people’s interests, not their own positions.
                                                                                    • Keep a clear perspective on who has what authority at all times. People need to know who has the power to make decisions before a crisis occurs.
                                                                                    • People react to pressure in different ways. Be observant and open in how you help your team manage different types of pressure.

                                                                                    Exercise:

                                                                                    Go into the office and find five things that could go wrong. For each one, describe how you are going to manage the problem if you are assigned the task to fix it. Who needs to be in the room to manage the problem? What will you do if you are not in a position of power?

                                                                                    Part 3 : Management

                                                                                     

                                                                                    • Chapter 12 : Why leadership is based on trust

                                                                                    As far as leading your team is concerned, everything depends on the assumptions that people make about you. When you say “I will make sure that gets done tomorrow” or “I am going to speak to Carol and get her to agree,” others will silently calculate the probability that what you say is true. Over time, if you are serving your team well, the probability will be perceived as very high. They will believe your work and trust you.

                                                                                    Even though in the movies leaders are portrayed as having a dramatic role – such as throwing themselves into burning buildings or bravely fighting alone against a whole host of enemies – true leadership is based on very simple and practical things. Do what you say you will and say what you mean to say. Admit when you are wrong. Incorporate the opinions and ideas of others in decisions which impact them. If you can do these things, more often than not you will earn the trust of those you work with. When the time comes for you to ask them to do something unpleasant or which they don’t agree with, their trust in you will make your leadership possible.

                                                                                    Therefore, to be a great leader, you must learn how to find, build, earn and give trust to others – as well as learn to cultivate trust in yourself.

                                                                                    Additionally:

                                                                                    • Trust is built on effective commitments.
                                                                                    • Trust is lost through inconsistent behavior towards important issues.
                                                                                    • Use authority and trust to allow people to do a good job.
                                                                                    • Institutional power comes from the company organizational structure. Power of recognition comes solely from people’s response to your actions. Recognition power is the most useful institutional power, although both are necessary.
                                                                                    • Delegate in order to build trust in your team and to assure yourself that your team is united in the face of adversity.
                                                                                    • Deal with problems in a way that will keep people’s trust. Be supportive during crises so that they will tell you problems rather than hide them from you.
                                                                                    • Having confidence in yourself is the foundation for leadership. Self-discovery is the way to learn who you are and to develop a healthy independence.

                                                                                    Exercise:

                                                                                    Make a list of the 5 people that you work with the most. Who do you trust the most and why?

                                                                                     

                                                                                    • Chapter 13 : Making things happen

                                                                                    The ability to make things happen is a combination of knowing how to be the catalyst in a variety of different situations, and having the courage to do so.

                                                                                    Additionally:

                                                                                    • Everything can be represented in an ordered list. Most of the work of project management is assigning the right priority to things and leading the team to get them done.
                                                                                    • The three basic ordered lists are: the project objectives (vision), the list of functions and the list of work items. They must always be synchronized with each other. Each work task contributes to a function and each function to an objective.
                                                                                    • There is a bright yellow line between the priority of what I am working on and all the rest.
                                                                                    • Things happen when you say no. If you don’t say no, you have not effectively prioritized.
                                                                                    • The project manager must make it so that the teams stays honest and close to reality.
                                                                                    • Knowing the path of least resistance in engineering and in team processes allows for efficiency.
                                                                                    • You must be both tough and smart to make things happen.

                                                                                    Exercise :

                                                                                    Who in your organization has the reputation for making things happen? How did they earn it? And who are the people with a reputation for not making things happen? Is there a relationship between their position in the organization and their ability to make things happen?

                                                                                    [ad#ad-bas]

                                                                                    • Chapter 14 : Middle-game strategy

                                                                                    Just as in the middle game when playing chess, the middle of a project is the moment when a lot of things happen at the same time, and it’s difficult to keep a clear perspective about what is going well and what is not going well. To fight this inevitable fog that surrounds the team and makes inexperienced people get easily lost, you must apply these three simple principles:

                                                                                    1. If things are going well at the end of the first day, the objective for the next day is to make it so that things continue to go well.
                                                                                    2. If on any day the project is not going well, it’s your job to figure out what the problems are and to act so that the project goes well again. This can take hours, days or weeks.
                                                                                    3. Repeat until the project is finished.

                                                                                    The problem is that you only have a limited amount of time to understand what the problems are and even less time to solve them. Not to mention the effort needed to protect the healthy parts of the project from the problems. For these reasons, and more, stress and energy levels in the middle of the game are very high. The team is moving at an ever increasing pace, and the acceptable margins of error are going down on a daily basis.

                                                                                    Additionally:

                                                                                    • Projects are complex non-linear systems and have significant inertia. If you are expecting to wait until problems are serious before acting, you will be late and might make things even worse.
                                                                                    • When your project is out of control, you are flying behind the plane, which is a bad place to fly. There are both tactical and strategic points to be verified.
                                                                                    • Think about how to act to correct a situation in the best possible way. The bigger the action, and the further along the project, the more dangerous the action can be.
                                                                                    • Schedules based on milestones provide opportunities to make corrections for project paths that are more certain.
                                                                                    • Configuration control is how you manage change acceleration from a low level and an intermediate level on the project.

                                                                                    Exercise:

                                                                                    If you are in the middle of a project now, take five people at random from your team and ask them to describe their confidence in the schedule in the form of a percentage. Do the same thing with five managers. Compare the results and present them at a team meeting. If it’s useful, do it every week. Make it so that the descriptions are anonymous so that people will be honest.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    • Chapter 15: End-game strategy

                                                                                    When the end of the project is near, someone must find a good way to apply the brakes in order to slow down the progressive movement so that things end well.

                                                                                    Additionally:

                                                                                    • A big target is a series of little targets.
                                                                                    • Every milestone has three smaller targets :
                                                                                      • Design complete (specifications complete)
                                                                                      • Functions complete (implementation complete)
                                                                                      • Milestone complete (quality assurance and refinement complete)
                                                                                    • Defining the exit criteria at the beginning of the milestone increases the ability of the team to finish on time.
                                                                                    • Being on schedule is just like landing an airplane: you need a long, wide approach. And you better be ready take off again quickly, without having to make major repairs..
                                                                                    • You need metrics to track the project. Common metrics include day to day work, bug management and the business charter [?].
                                                                                    • You need control elements to adjust the levels of a project. Common elements include review meetings, tries, and centralized decision making at the end of the project.
                                                                                    • The end of the game is a slow and difficult process. The challenge is to reduce the scope of the changes until you have a satisfactory finished product.
                                                                                    • Now is the time begin the postmortem process. Give yourself, as well as your team, the benefit of learning from what went well and what didn’t go well.
                                                                                    • If fortune is smiling on you, and your project works out, be happy. Very, very happy. A lot of people, even though it is not necessarily their fault, don’t get that far. Look forward to a great night out. Do something fun and extravagant (like inviting the author of the book to a party). Provide stories that will be told for years to come.

                                                                                    Exercise:

                                                                                    You are two days away from a major news release on your news site, used by millions of people. The champagne is ready and waiting. But an engineer discovers a major problem which is going to take three days to fix. The problem is the 10 million dollars spent on publicity for the launch date and the time already spent. What will you do?

                                                                                     

                                                                                    • Chapter 16 : Power and Politics

                                                                                    Every time you try to organize people to do something, whether it is to get ready for a party or start a business, the people concerned have different attitudes, skills, and different desires. This means that it doesn’t matter how talented the leader of a project is, there will always be people who won’t get what they want. Therefore, there is a natural instinct in ambitious and motivated people to try and get what they want by influencing the people with the power to get things done.

                                                                                    The fuel that propels politics is power. Someone who can influence the right person at the right time, and who uses his knowledge to resolve situations to everyone’s satisfaction, can be more powerful in an organization than those who are at the top – sometimes without even knowing it.

                                                                                    For project managers this means two things:

                                                                                    1. There will be political influences that impact you, whatever your power or your personal ethic.
                                                                                    2. Power and politics are an inherent part of management.

                                                                                    You must therefore at least be conscious of how political systems work if you want to reduce their negative effects, not to mention if you want to increase their positive effects.

                                                                                    Additionally:

                                                                                    • Politics is a natural consequence of human nature. When people work together in groups there is a limited amount of authority which can be distributed amount different people with different wishes and different motives.
                                                                                    • All leaders have political constraints. Every executive, CEO or president has peers or superiors who limit their ability to make decisions. In general, the more power someone has, the more complicated are the constraints upon it.
                                                                                    • There are many different types of political power, like rewards, coercion, knowledge, references, and influence.
                                                                                    • Power is misused when it is applied to things that do not further the objectives of the project. A lack of clarity with respect to the objectives, loosely allocated resources, or unclear decision processes can contribute to this misuse of power.
                                                                                    • To resolve political problems, be clear about what you want. Identify who has it, and then evaluate hoq you can get it.
                                                                                    • If you are involved in project management, you lay out a political playing field around you. It’s up to you to decide up to what point it is honest or unfair.

                                                                                    Exercise:

                                                                                    Is it possible to work with other people and have nothing to do with politics? Think of a work environment with the healthiest political environment possible. What makes it possible?

                                                                                    Book Review:

                                                                                    This book is heavy. Very heavy. 370 wide pages, full of text, with some diagrams here and there. Fortunately, the author takes his work very seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously, which means that his book is sprinkled with nice, humerous sentences which lighten it all up somewhat.

                                                                                    In the end, I have trouble judging because, other than directing a small business, I have never managed projects of the human and technical complexity levels that the author is talking about. Furthermore, this book is clearly geared more towards people who work in large organizations, just like Results Without Authority, and even more specifically to people who work in the software development field, even though the author visibly does his best to be as general as possible – but there are so many references to the software industry that he does not achieve his objective.

                                                                                    I would say, therefore, that it is obvious from reading this book that Scott Berkun is someone who has a lot of experience in this subject and that he has mastered it exceedingly well. I know that one day I will have to manage more complex development projects than those in my current company, and I won’t hesitate to dive into this book to pull out the tricks and ideas or find answers to specific problems. This book therefore has a place on the bookshelf for all project managers who work in large organizations. Once again, for $39.00, if this book only gives you one good idea, it will largely pay for itself. If you are a project lead in the software industry, dig in. This book is made for you ;

                                                                                    Strong points:

                                                                                    • Very thorough
                                                                                    • Sprinkled with humorous phrases which lighten it up
                                                                                    • The author has obviously mastered his subject down to the tips of his fingernails
                                                                                    • Geared towards the software industry, but contains advice and methods applicable to the management of any project in a large organization.

                                                                                    Weak Points:

                                                                                    • Very, very heavy
                                                                                    • A little too geared towards the software industry
                                                                                    • A little too geared towards large organizations

                                                                                    Translated by www.DeansResource.com

                                                                                      My rating: image image imageimageimageimageimageimageimage (if you are called to lead projects in large organizations – add a star if your company is in the software industry)

                                                                                      image image imageimageimageimageimageimageimage (if you are called to lead projects in another field)

                                                                                      Have you read the book? How do you rate it?

                                                                                      Mediocre - No interestReasonable - One or two interesting paragraphsIntermediate - Some goods ideasGood - Had changed my life on one practical aspectVery Good - Completely changed my life ! (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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                                                                                      Read more reviews about Making Things Happen on Amazon.

                                                                                      PMBA Challenge:

                                                                                      Cost of the Book:

                                                                                      € 31.24

                                                                                      Total cost of the project:

                                                                                      € 217.77

                                                                                      Number of pages:

                                                                                      370

                                                                                      Total number of pages:

                                                                                      3061

                                                                                      Time to read it:

                                                                                      3H

                                                                                      Time to write this article:

                                                                                      8H

                                                                                      Total time for the project:

                                                                                      114H30

                                                                                      Buy this book on Amazon:

                                                                                      Making Things Happen

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Making Things Happen - Mastering Project Management

                                                                                      One Sentence Summary : Project management is a complicated art which requires you to master a number of things such as planning, understanding what needs to be done, writing a good overall vision statement, understanding where ideas come from, understanding what to do with ideas, writing good specifications, understanding how to make good decisions, communication and interpersonal relationships, what to do when things go badly, understanding why leadership is built on trust, making things happen, managing the strategy in the middle and at the end of the project, or understanding questions of power and politics; this book describes in detail each of these components and gives us numerous methods and tricks for mastering them.

                                                                                      By Scott Berkun, 2008, 370 pages.

                                                                                      Note : Since this book is both thick and complex, I am publishing the summary in two parts. This is the first.

                                                                                      Summary and Book Report:

                                                                                      Scott Berkun is an author and speaker who has worked at Microsoft for 9 years as a project manager going from Internet Explorer (1 through 5), Windows and MSN. In 2005 he published the first version of this book, The Art of Project Management, which was centered more around project management in the area of software development and the phenomenal success of which, for a book of this type, led to this revision, in which the subject is more general and touches on general project management, for any sector.

                                                                                      Every chapter ends with a list of exercises – extremely relevant – to reflect on the subjects dealt with and put them into practice. I am giving you one at the end of each chapter summary.

                                                                                      The author begins by telling us that the idea of project management goes back a long way in human history. Everything that humanity has built, from the Egyptian pyramids or the Roman aqueducts up to a Boeing 777 or the Hubble space telescope, have been designed and then implemented. Between these two stages is found the art of leading long and complex projects to fruition.

                                                                                      The author wonders if there were points in common between all these projects, if he could find common denominators. He did not always find obvious answers, but each time that he returned from his quests into the past to dive into the world of software development, his own tools and processes appeared differently to him. And there were three lessons that he drew from these expeditions:

                                                                                      1. Project management is not a holy art. All modern engineering work is a new foray into history and things already realized. Technology and skills might change, but the central challenges remain the same. Everything is both unique and derived from something else. In order to be able to re-use past knowledge, you must be open to both.
                                                                                      2. The simpler your vision of what needs to be done, the greater your power of concentration to accomplish it. If we keep a simple vision for our work, we can find useful comparisons with other ways of doing things all around us. It’s a similar concept to what the Japonese call shoshin, or keeping a beginner’s mind – an open mind – which is an essential element in martial arts. Staying open and curious is what makes growth possible. In order to continue learning, we must resist the temptation to succomb to the safe and narrow visions with regard to what we are doing.
                                                                                      3. Simple doesn’t mean easy. The best writers, athletes, programmers, and managers tend to be people who see what they do as simple by nature and difficult at the same time. For example, it is simple to run a marathon. You begin running and you don’t stop until you have completed 40 kilometres (26 miles). What could be simpler than that? The fact is that the difficulty of it does not reduce its simplicity. Leadership and management are also difficult, but their nature – making it so that things happen in a specific way towards a specific objective – is simple.

                                                                                      Additionally:

                                                                                      • Project management might be a job, a role or an activity.
                                                                                      • Leadership and management require understanding and intuitive knowledge of numerous common paradoxes, such as:
                                                                                        • Ego/No-ego: The ego can be a driver for managers, who often derive great personal satisfaction from their work. However, managers must avoid placing their own interests above those of the project, and must delegate important and fun tasks, and share the rewards.
                                                                                        • Autocrat/Delegator: In certain situations, the most important things are strong and clear authority and a quick response time, and the manager must have the necessary confidence and the will to take control and force certain actions. However, the general objective must be to avoid these situations.
                                                                                        • Oral/Written: Even though many organizations today are email-centric – notably software development companies – oral communication is still important, there are always meetings, negotiations, hallway discussions, and brainstorming sessions. In general the larger the organization or project, the more writing skills are important. But a good manager must recognize when written or oral communication will be more efficient.
                                                                                        • Courage/Fear: One of the biggest misconceptions of our culture is that people who are brave don’t experience fear. That’s a lie. A brave person is one who feels fear but chooses to act anyway.
                                                                                      • If you are a dedicated manager, find ways to capitalize on your unique perspective of the team and the project.
                                                                                      • In the end, all projects use similar processes; they all allow time to plan, implement and refine.

                                                                                      Part 1: Plans

                                                                                      • Chapter 2 : The Truth About Schedules

                                                                                      (more…)

                                                                                      Results Without Authority

                                                                                      Controlling a project when the team doesn’t report to you

                                                                                      Results Without Authority - Controlling a project when the team doesn't report to you

                                                                                      One Sentence Summary: Today in large organizations, it is rare that the project lead has supervisory power over all the people on his project team. He must, however, maintain enthusiasm, motivation and results from people without being able to use the power of his position and powers of coercion; this book teaches us numerous techniques to do so.

                                                                                      By Tom Kendrick, 245 pages, 2006.

                                                                                      Summary and Book Review :

                                                                                      Note: This book is very heavy, in a very classic academic format (translate: irritating) and very focused on large corporations, I read it using the rapid reading techniques of 10 Days to Faster Reading, notably scanning and scraping. I am giving you a quick summary, which I hope will be sufficient for you to get a good idea of the book’s contents.

                                                                                      Projets are everywhere. Some are successful, others are not. And many projects fail because the project lead cannot control things well enough to bring them to their final conclusion. Projects today often take place in complex environments where the project lead does not have formal authority over the members of his project team. And even those that do, there is always a part of the project that falls to someone who doesn’t have this authority. Fortunately, it is possible to control a project and make it successful by using techniques that don’t depend on your position in the organization or your formal authority. Let’s take a look at them.

                                                                                      (more…)