August 18, 2005
Book Short: Not As Deep As You’d Like
Deep Change, by Robert Quinn, is a reasonably interesting collection of thoughts on management and leadership, but it doesn’t hang together very well as a single work with a unified theme. The promise is interesting — that we must personally abandon our knowledge, competence, techniques and abilities and “walk naked into the land of uncertainty” to undergo great personal change that can then lead us to organizational change — but the book doesn’t quite deliver on it.
That said, I enjoyed the book as a quick read for a few of its more interesting concepts. For example, Quinn has a great crystallization of many things I’ve observed over the years called “the tyrrany of competence” where organizations can get paralyzed by people who are technically strong at their jobs but who are either disruptive culturally or who have such a chokehold on their role that they hold back the organization as a whole from growing. Another good concept is a chart and some related commentary about how a person transforms from an individual contributor, to a manager, to a leader — great for any growing company. The last interesting one was a grid mapping out four different types of CEOs — Motivator, Vision Setter, Anazlyer, and Taskmaster. Quinn goes into some detail about the characteristics of each and then circles back to the inevitable conclusion (like most Harvard Business Review articles) that the best CEOs exhibit all four characteristics at different times, in different circumstances.
So not my favorite book overall, but some good tidbits. Probably worth a quick read if you’re a student of management and leadership. Thanks to my former colleague Kendall Rawls for this book.