Many years ago, I’d realized that pure technical competence would only get a person so far — it was important to be able to talk with people and explain ideas. In other words, to be able to tell a story. And, every bit as importantly, to be able to listen to other people’s stories and help them tell them better. So I was very interested in reading what Steve Denning had to say on the subject.
I’m not sure I learned a lot that I didn’t already know — that’s not to say that the book wasn’t worthwhile, but there wasn’t much that surprised me. I was amused to read, yet again, the story of IBM’s embrace of the Internet (I was there, although not in the meetings in Armonk which were critical to making things happen — and that’s a valuable lesson: there’s no substitute for being in the room), but this time with a concentration on the role of persuasion and leadership (as contrasted with management).
I very much like the final chapter in the book, describing “interactive, Tolstoyan” leadership. I’ve worked for “Napoleonic” managers…and I haven’t enjoyed it. I’ve also worked for “Tolstoyan” managers, and it’s been a pleasure (and I’ve made stronger contributions in that environment, too).
I did not work through the exercises in the book (hey, I am on vacation!), so I’m sure I didn’t get the fullest benefit from reading it, but life is full of choices. And I can always go back to the book another day (though this copy has to go back to the library!).