In this book Bob Frisch sets out to dispel a myth – that a Senior Management Team makes the critical decisions for a company. The reality is that critical decisions are typically made by the boss and a small group of confidants. This gap between myth and reality results in dysfunction, which itself leads to worthless team building exercises, arranged in an effort to rectify matters.
The author shows that the problems are more ones of process and structure, rather than psychology. He has spent twenty-nine years consulting to organizations of all kinds around the world, and has seen the confusion and conflict caused by the way decisions get made. Bob Frisch has a hope – that by understanding the nature of executive decision making, executives and the members of their senior teams can stop “beating up themselves and each other.”
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How can this happen? By an acceptance of reality and a willingness to refine that reality with a few simple steps: free decision-making and decision-makers by throwing out those organization charts. Frisch claims that if you follow the advice in this book, your organization will get faster, better decisions with team members achieving new levels of effectiveness and fulfilment.
Frisch offers advice and solutions, and candidly gets to the nub of many problems. For example, whilst acknowledging that effective meetings are necessary he adds, “But why optimize a meeting that’s about the wrong things, with the wrong people, at the wrong time, or meetings of a team that shouldn't exist in the first place?”
One of his suggestions is that CEO's cut through such inefficiency by putting in place a more flexible and fluid approach that focuses on what teams are best for what tasks, and so forming objective-based teams. Yet again, the organization chart is chucked out and an outcomes-based approach to team management is created. In any situation calling for team involvement a leader starts with the outcome he/she is seeking. Process, hierarchy and structure do not disappear, but they are no longer the primary determinants of how the leader uses teams – desired outcomes are. “Who goes into the room depends on what the boss wants to come out of the room.”
By following his suggested methods, Frisch believes that behaviour in your organization will change because clarity will have been established about structure, process and roles – the essence of good management. With this in place he believes good decisions will follow.
Bob Frisch is the Managing Partner of The Strategic Offsites Group. He has worked with organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to Germany Mittelstand family businesses to the U.S. Department of State. Bob’s work has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fortune.
Who’s in the Room? How Great Leaders Structure and Manage the Teams Around Them, Bob Frisch, Published by Jossey-Bass, 2012, ISBN 978-1-118-06787-1