Articles, whitepapers, reviews and more.


Diane Byington, Ph.D.

Book Review: Dave’s Subs by David Marx

A late bread delivery. A new driver. An improperly stocked bread rack. A first-time customer. An employee’s first foray into covering as manager. An instinctive reach. A failure to confirm. It was a series of mostly unremarkable events. No evil actor. No intention to harm. Yet a customer with celiac disease had to be hospitalized when she was accidentally served a sub with regular bread instead of the gluten-free roll she’d requested.

Milo, the manager who’d been absent when the mistake occurred, is tasked with figuring out how to make sure nothing like that ever happens again. And so he begins a journey into learning about workplace accountability. We follow along, happy it’s his problem and not ours.

Book Review: Breaking Corporate Silence ~ How High-Influence Leaders Create Cultures of Voice

This little book should be on every leader’s desk—not stuck under a pile of papers, but sitting on top, ready to be consulted every day. It’s well-written, filled with practical suggestions you can implement right away, and thought-provoking.

Corporate voice boils down to whether employees hold back important work-related information that could inform decisions and problem resolutions, or whether they experience the safety, confidence, and trust that encourages them to contribute their fullest. Employees in a culture of silence may perform their jobs, but they will do so as a matter of obedience or resignation. They don’t go out of their way to give their best efforts or to solve problems, even if they have good ideas, mainly because they don’t think leaders will listen to them or value them.

Employees in a culture of voice, on the other hand, contribute their fullest, resulting in open, honest, and healthy communication and innovative problem solving. They are willing to expand their efforts to meet organizations’ goals and advance business objectives beyond fulfilling the basic requirements of their jobs.

Book Review: Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish

This is not one of those books you’ll read from cover to cover while sipping a cup of coffee with your feet up on your desk. It’s more of a textbook, or a workbook, for CEOs and their executive teams to work through issues involved in scaling up their businesses. The first chapter is an executive summary, and the author describes its fast pace and many lists as “drinking from a fire hose!” It’s intense, so keep both feet on the floor. The ideas in the rest of the book are served up in more bite-sized pieces, although it never really slows down.

Harnish describes the keys to scaling up as: attracting and keeping the right people; creating a truly differentiated strategy; driving flawless execution; and having plenty of cash to weather the storms. Accordingly, there are sections devoted to each of these topics. Each section has at least three chapters and numerous worksheets to be completed. I think, if you work your way through the book, you’ll be happy you did.

Book Review: Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader by Herminia Ibarra

Herminia Ibarra is the director of a prestigious executive leadership program, and her new book is designed to help managers at all levels step up to leadership. Making small but crucial changes in your job, your networks, and yourself can lead to enhanced leadership opportunities. She bases the book on the “outsight” principle, which holds that the only way to think like a leader is to first act: to plunge yourself into new projects and activities, interact with very different kinds of people, and experiment with unfamiliar ways of getting things done. In other words, change happens from the outside, rather than from the inside out.

Book Review: Stan Slap, Under the Hood

Stan Slap, management consultant and keynote speaker par excellence, has a new book. It’s called Under the Hood, and it’s about employee culture; specifically, how management objectives can be either supported or sabotaged by the employee culture. Slap’s definition of employee culture is: “Your employees’ shared beliefs about the rules of survival and emotional prosperity.” An employee culture exists to protect itself; it is an information-gathering organism, designed to assure its own survival.

Which means it is anti-change, because change—including positive change–could threaten its very survival. You, even as a first-level manager, are not part of the employee culture. Instead, you are the key influencer of the culture’s survival and emotional prosperity.

Book Review: The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard Ph. D. and Spencer Johnson MD.

Chances are you’re one of the 15 million people who have read the original One Minute Manager published in 1982. It’s a small book that requires only about an hour to read and uses a parable to teach three crucial management skills (called “secrets”) that, once learned, will probably stick in your memory forever. So why revise such a valuable resource? I was curious, so I compared The New One Minute Manager with the original version.