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Author: Warren Bennis and Noel Tichy

Publisher: Portfolio

ISBN: Mick Yates

Summary:Judgment is a contextually-informed decision making encompassing three domains - people, strategy and crisis and woking in three phases.



Leader Values

ISBN: 978 1 59184 153 1 

A classic volume on a subject that is not covered enough in the literature, by two well-established leadership gurus. Skipping right to the end, a very helpful part of the book is the "how to manual" of judgment process models, organizing questions, self-evaluation tips and more. Literally a practical guide to improving one's own judgment.

Bennis and Tichy stress that only when the judgment has been executed in the organization or business can it be considered "good". Cato said "When Cicero spoke, people marvelled. When Ceasar spoke, people marched".

The authors suggest that judgment is a contextually-informed decision making encompassing three domains - people, strategy and crisis. In each domain, there is a three phase "judgment process", which starts with a preparatory/contextual phase, moves to making the call, and concludes with executional follow up. They also suggest that good judgment is supported by contextual knowledge of yourself, your social network and of organizational stakeholders. They thus argue against Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" hypothesis. Gladwell suggests that experts do not make decisions logically but use "instant intuition". By contrast Bennis and Tichy argue that relying on intuition has serious perils, and the most cogent decisions meld first impressions with deliberative analysis.

The book is full of stories from the CEO's office, which are always illuminating and demonstrate the author's model, both in successful cases (A.G. Lafley at P&G, Jim McNerney at Boeing) and unsuccessful cases (Carly Fiorina to name one). Bennis and Tichy also stress the value of having a Teacheable Point Of View, which cements an individual's views on what is important and how to get others to follow.

If there is weakness to the book, it comes from an over-reliance on the GE of both Welch and Immelt (and where Tichy has done much work and written about before). It is would also be good to move beyond the corner office to go deeper in the organization. Still, that aside, the approach is valuable, and the advice sound for anyone wanting to improve their judgment. It is one of the better leadership books I have read this year.

Copyright 2008 Mick Yates