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Book Review: Lencioni’s Four Obsessions . . . .

June 8th, 2009 Comments off

     Over the weekend I was able to finish up another one of Patrick Lencioni’s books, who also happens to be one of my favorite authors. The latest book I chose was “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive”.  The premise of the book is the parallel profile of two classmates who subsequently started their own consulting firms after college and different levels of success both had achieved. The book detailed the different approaches that each CEO had taken in the management of their company, which ranged from the evaluation of M&A opportunities to the hiring of new talent within their respective firms. The story really started to evolve when one of the CEO’s stepped back from his standard involvement and allowed his staff the final decision making authority on a new HR candidate, Jamie Bender.

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      For those that have a true disdain for politics and less than forthright daily dealings, it’s very easy to despise Jamie Bender’s character. Not sure how often, but I lost count of how many times I wanted to have his character taken out. He was exactly the type of colleague I cannot tolerate working with.  However, without spoiling the end, I will say that his character “get’s his” in the end and there’s a conclusion that brings the story full-circle, when at times it seems to be going nowhere. In fact, when the book launches into a discussion of what exactly the four obsessions are it’s easy to reach the conclusion that the appropriate title might be The Four Obsessions of an Ordinary Executive.  Although I believe it was a worthwhile read, I have gotten more out of some of Lencioni’s other books such as Death by Meeting and Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Regardless of whether I enjoyed this as much as some of those mentioned reads, Patrick Lencioni is an author that is worth committing time to his books.

Thanks for reading. . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael

Book Review: Patrick Lencioni and “The Five Temptations”…

March 18th, 2009 Comments off

     Right on the heels of some comments this morning regarding the evolving role of the CFO, I finished reading my latest book last night by Patrick Lencioni; “The Five Temptations of a CEO”.  While it might appear from the cover that it’s more directed towards a general management application, that’s exactly where the leading Finance folks seem to be finding themselves these days. If you haven’t read any of Lencioni’s works, they are great reading. While really simplistic in content, it’s refreshing to be reminded of concepts that really are simple and to reinforce the need sometimes to get back to basics. To put a focus on the values that, while maybe practiced daily, need to be communicated to others.

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      In his first work, Lencioni discusses the five temptations that CEO’s need to avoid. His collection of these five temptations were developed as a result of his consulting work, compiled, further discussed, and affirmed through a wider audience. Simply, those five temptations are:

Temptation #1:   Choosing Status over Results

Temptation #2:   Choosing Popularity over Accountability

Temptation #3:   Choosing Certainty over Clarity

Temptation #4:   Choosing Harmony over Conflict

Temptation #5:   Choosing Invulnerability over Trust

     It really is interesting to see how these cross over to a Finance application and where we might fall into one of these areas.  With respect to Finance, I am almost always certainly pursuing Certainty over Clarity when it comes to making decisions regarding significant expenditures. Although we now find ourselves in an environment where speed and the speed of adaptation are playing a significant role, I am typically pursuing Certainty.  Moving to the last one, with respect to business, I trust few. When it comes to major decision making – What due diligence steps have been pursued? Do you have the supporting documentation? What is the source of your data and when was it last updated? Resume looks great but did you run reference checks?  Trust in Finance?….Not often, and only after I’ve developed a good history with the person in question. But then again, many had a long history with Madoff.

     Hopefully you enjoy the book as much as I did and I highly suggest reading some of Lencioni’s other works.

Thanks for reading . . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael