ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

May 1999


Kid's Stuff

Quality On Trial: Achieving Success At A Law Firm

Baskin Robbins' Best Flavor

Kung Fu Theatre


Let's Go To The Oasis
by Peter Block


Sorry We're Closed: Diary Of A Shutdown

Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review

The Quality Tool I Never Use

Site Unseen

Book Reviews With a Twist

“Power Tools: A Leader’s Guide to the Latest Management Thinking”
by John Nirenberg

Power is often defined as “the ability to influence.” Tool can be defined as “an instrument or device used to leverage the knowledge, ability, strength or talent of its user.” In this ambitious piece of writing, author John Nirenberg presents the reader with literally hundreds of ways to leverage their attempts at influencing those you may interact with at work, home, socially or academically. This critical examination of the latest management trends, tools, techniques and buzzwords is impressive in its depth and breadth. It is the kind of reference harried managers and leaders will write in, bookmark, quote to others and—most importantly—use over and over again to encourage, innovate and improve.

Ol’ Bill Shakespeare once said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Nirenberg’s writing requires each reader to think. “Power Tools” synthesizes thousands of citations, abstracts, articles and books. The author has saved us a lot of work. However, the tools and techniques presented cannot be put to good use without thinking. The greatest service Nirenberg performs in “Power Tools” is to continuously make that pitch—for managers to think.

Power Post: Write This On The Wall of the Executive Washroom: “Further, the [management] wisdom can be distilled to a rock-bottom declaration that it is all about authentic communications, strong positive relationships and a character of high integrity.”

Warning...Warning...Danger, Will Robinson!!!!
“In discovering the underlying wisdom and wishful thinking regarding the use of the tools, I also discovered that an organizational immune system is at work to repel new thinking and behavior.”

Word to “Wannabes:”
If you intend to become a “learning organization” or change the organizational culture in another way, you must first examine the current values, norms and individual capabilities within the organization. You cannot mandate learning. A learning organization is an environment which must be created, but it also requires individuals who are learners, structures that encourage thoughtful trial and error, a tolerance for ambiguity and risk, etc.

Making Sense, Da Big Seven and a Compendium:
The author has divided “Power Tools” into three equally compelling reads. In Part I, “Making Sense,” Nirenberg sets a context for understanding the proper use of the tools and techniques to follow. Additionally, he refutes some common wisdom and creates a new model for our challenging times. Part II, “The Big Seven” outlines important contemporary management tools and the third section, “An Annotated Compendium of 100 Tools/Techniques,” is segmented into helpful tool categories.

Full of charts, graphs, tables and all kinds of organizational, group/team and individual assessments, “Power Tools” is a helpful, engaging and badly needed addition to the desktop library of today’s busiest managers and leaders. This is the highest rating I have yet given to a book I have reviewed. John Nirenberg’s “Power Tools” earned every star.

“Power Tools: A Leader’s Guide to the Latest Management Thinking,”
John Nirenberg, 1997, Prentice Hall, Singapore, ISBN 0-13-745845-2, 465 pages, Price N/A.
Reviewed by CWO4 Jerry Linnins Chief, Performance Improvement Schools U.S. Coast Guard Training Center, Petaluma, Calif.

May '99 News for a Change | Email Editor
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