Leadership

Books: Take the Long View

By / Aug 1, 2018

The perils of bowing to short-term pressures, according to the book Go Long.

Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking Is Your Best Short-Term Strategy

By Dennis Carey, Brian Dumaine, Michael Useem, and Rodney Zemmel; Wharton Digital Press; 140 pages; $18.99

Despite its mere 140 pages, Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking Is Your Best Short-Term Strategy is a call to action to CEOs under pressure to achieve short-term organizational gains rather than take long-term, bolder risks that can produce bigger and better rewards.

Although the six case studies by authors Dennis Carey, Brian Dumaine, Michael Useem, and Rodney Zemmel detail battles at powerhouses like Ford, CVS, and 3M, the pressures exerted by these companies’ diverse stakeholders should be familiar to association CEOs committed to future-focused projects that may not bring immediate ROI. The advice of these Wall Street survivors will resonate and harden resolve.

The CEOs agree, for instance, that true strategic change not only takes time, but also money, so leaders should expect board members or others to balk. However, long-view CEOs can use careful tactics to win over internal and external constituencies, adopt a business model respectful of stakeholder groups, ignore competitors who may take different paths, and cocreate clear success metrics and performance monitoring.

“CEOs need to formulate a crystal-clear, compelling business case and then find ways to communicate it to [stakeholders] … that convinces them that going long is worth the wait,” says Verizon’s Ivan Seidenberg. Also needed is greater understanding of the bolstering power that a “higher purpose,” nonfinancial identity, and guiding principles can bring to bottom lines—a point already recognized by most associations.

A motivating read that fits well in your beach bag.

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts

By Annie Duke; Portfolio/Penguin; 288 pages; $26

This fascinating guide to smart decision-making in imperfect situations deals out hard-won lessons and insights scored during the author’s profitable professional poker career and psychological research. Now a strategy consultant and nonprofit cofounder, Annie Duke takes us through hand after hand of critical thinking skills, coaching readers on how to accept uncertainty, discard emotions, recognize the role of luck, and spot cognitive tricks such as bias and illusion. CEOs also may find themselves all-in on her observations about choosing potential alternative futures.

Especially interesting is Duke’s warning against so-called resulting, in which people fail to separate outcome quality from decision quality. Her thorough explanation of resulting and the harm it causes to both current and future decision-making offers serious food for thought.

A good bet you’ll learn something in this surprisingly high-stakes, engaging read.

Conscious: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life

By Bob Rosen and Emma-Kate Swann; Wiley; 272 pages; $26

In his eighth book on leadership, Bob Rosen, writing this time with fellow psychologist Emma-Kate Swann, urges leaders struggling with rapid business shifts to adopt a more umbrella approach to change management. While “most people believe they are self-aware, research shows only 10 to 15 percent of us truly have this capability,” Rosen and Swann write. Such lack of awareness harms organizations because workers are too slow to address six key workplace disruptors: technology, globalization, pace, complexity, uncertainty, and competition.

Leaders can hone their consciousness only by “going deep” (exploring self-identity and motivations), “thinking big” (opening your mind and using relationships to reveal opportunities), “getting real” (facing tough truths and taking smarter risks), and “stepping up” (advocating higher purposes for your organization and developing your workers).

Kristin Clarke

Kristin Clarke is books editor for Associations Now and a business journalist and sustainability director for ASAE. More »

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