Book Review: Stand Back & Deliver

“Stand Back and Deliver” is a book about leadership. This is not an easy topic to be discussed in a book, but this one gives you some tools that will help you to assess situations and act on them. I think that the authors give a very good definition of leadership when they explain their title: “Standing back does not imply abdicating all responsibility, but rather requires leaders to perform a careful balancing act between stepping back to let the right people in the organization do their thing and stepping up to provide steering when the team has strayed off course”. The delivery part exists because the most important measure of success is defined as delivering value to the business.

The first chapter presents the key principles that will be discussed in the book: Purpose – Collaborate – Delivery – Decisions. The chapter about purpose presents a model that allows classifying activities or business functions according to their market differentiation and mission critical dimensions. The chapter on collaboration emphasizes the importance of letting the people succeed. In the delivery part, the authors propose a model to assess projects using their uncertainty and complexity dimensions. The next chapter exposes ideas on how and when to make decisions. After discussing all these principles, the authors offer you some hints on how to start putting them in practice to change your organization. Finally, a last chapter offers a short summary of all the tools and models discussed in the book. All the concepts are supported by many cases that show how the issues and ideas discussed relate to practical situations.

Despite grouping material from four different authors, this book has a good cohesion and provides a very smooth reading experience. It is certainly recommended to everyone that has to solve business problems through projects in organizations. Reading it, I was even thinking that it contains a lot of very good material that you can apply to your own personal development and projects.

Reference: Stand Back and Deliver, Pollyanna Pixton, Niel Nickolaisen, Todd Little, Kent McDonald, Addison-Wesley

Stand Back and Deliver

Quotes

Standing back does not imply abdicating all responsibility, but rather requires leaders to perform a careful balancing act between stepping back to let the right people in the organization do their thing and stepping up to provide steering when the team has strayed off course.

Purpose is not priority. Purpose identifies the design goals of a process, business rule, function, or feature. It does not define the sequence in which the work on that process, rule, function, or feature must occur. That being said, purpose can provide a framework for strategic and tactical planning.

Trust is essential to productive teams. Without trust, team members can waste time in clarifying communication and protecting their own backs. Unfortunately, you can’t make people trust one another. As a leader, your role, style and behavior will lay the groundwork for building trust.

To develop a sustainable competitive advantage, unleash the talent in your organization to deliver innovative ideas to the marketplace and to improve the throughput and productivity in your organizations.

High complexity or uncertainty correlates to higher risk. Reduce these factors, and you can reduce complexity, while incremental delivery helps lead a project through uncertainty.

Some leaders are natural managers of complexity, while others area experts at uncertainty. Match leadership styles to project characteristics, and develop leaders’ skills to broaden their capabilities.

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