Without a doubt, I think this is the best book on Organizational Effectiveness I've ever read and applied. You've got to apply it to understand what I mean. I currently am responsible for the success of five different organizations consisting of the business, political, sports, and non-profit arenas. For some reason, I had to manage all 5 at once. As I tried to get my arms around everything, the tendency to control everything myself only made me realize how little I could actually control. I had to trust others to help, but I didn't know how I could do that within the framework of five very different organizations, each with their own objectives and personalities.
The Art of Action is the answer. I've always believed that the human spirit when guided correctly can achieve great things. I've also believed that you need to trust others to come up with solutions to problems when they are closer to the problem than you are. It's centralized planning vs decentralized planning. When people understand the context of the team's situation, they understand why it is important to achieve a certain objective. The Art of Action gets people motivated.
When I've applied these principles, I've been amazed at the immediate results. My team members took ownership of their responsibilities and came up with amazing ideas to solve their problems. Immediately, I found myself in "Management" mode, making sure that they had all the tools at their disposal to reach their own objectives within my intent. Sometimes I had to recruit more people, make a connection that can help, or provide a budget, but I was amazed at the results as my role became one of a servant leader, helping them in any way so that they became successful. What's interesting is that I received the same results as I applied it in each organization. The principles can be applied across many different endeavors.
The hardest challenge I've had is to get buy-in from the leaders below me. I have asked them to write their own Strategy Briefings for their own teams, and that has taken some prodding. However, once they did, they found the reaction of their team members to be similar to my own. They become leaders of their own team within a greater organization, and I've been so very proud of them. I have found that those areas of my team that did buy-in and write their own Strategy Briefings have become the strongest leaders in our organization. It's been so impressive that I want this process to become a framework for the leadership that comes after me.
Finally, our teams are moving. We're reaching objectives when at first it didn't seem possible. When we take a breather and compare ourselves to the competition, we're amazed that we're blowing them away in some areas. We make a lot of decisions quickly, and we make more right ones than wrong ones. The only wrong decision is indecision. I find myself celebrating success with my teams much more than I was prior to applying the Art of Action.
So, I can't say enough about this book. Seeing the pride in my Team's eyes makes it all worthwhile. Thank you, Stephen Bungay!