With so much popular literature in the Business and Personal Development fields, one would imagine that there is little need for yet another book that promotes itself on the "magic" of how to influence people.
What this book brings to the table, however, is less based upon the power of personality and trite formulas presented by someone with name recognition, and more based upon a growing field of knowledge in the Science of Organizational Leadership. Here is the science of correlative studies that seeks to analyze and demonstrate a tie between specific actions with predictable results.
While many technical journals and academic tomes exist to meet this need, the patience and expertise needed to sort through and glean the key information is not something that most people possess or are willing to exert the time and effort needed.
No matter. Here is a book, written in a reasonably conversational tone within the grasp of most laymen to begin the journey into this field and begin to benefit from the many studies out there that offer much in how exactly influence is exerted upon others in a manner that these studies would predict to have a strong probability of success.
Here you'll find the answers to questions such as what qualities have been present and identified as highly likely to produce similar results in most settings where they are applied. Answers such as what behaviors specifically will lead to change within a group? How can you overcome the natural resistence to change found in most groups and people and so capture their hearts and imaginations that change becomes inevitable and infectuous? How can you harnesspPeer pressure to work for your leadership and goals instead of against it?
What might have been a dry, dusty academic discourse of the major studies in this field, is transformed into an easy, reading series of stories that tell a story of the studies and the settings where the change took place. The people involved become real.
That said, the informed and careful reader will want to carry with them some cautions as they read.
In an effort to make the communication and techniques clear, the authors present this material, necessarily perhaps, in a much simpler manner than is the case with the original studies. Where in an academic, scientific setting there would be some caution in arguing too strongly for the inevitability of change in any setting, here, for the sake of impact and appeal, the presentation would very much lead the less discerning reader to believe that these are hard and fast principles that lift and apply everywhere. The truth is, that there are elements such as culture, group size, gender, age, etc. that can all come into play. Also, many of the studies rely heavily upon very complex correlation type statistical techniques that are easily skewed, misread or misinterpreted and which require further follow-up studies to clarify. Here, the focus is upon the orginal studies and their findings are more than presented; they are sold to the reader.
That understood, it is still a very effective book and well worth the read.
The only element that this reader found a little disappointing was the use of the 12 Step Serenity Prayer's first line, as a negative illustration of how most people approach change in their lives.
The entire Serenity Prayer, is:
God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference.
In this book, only the first line is quoted and it is used negatively to try and illustrate how many people are passive and accepting of so much and don't take the step and use the tools available to make a difference. While this is clearly true, it is a misrepresentation of the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer that is known and loved by many who recognize it's power not only to practice acceptance, but also to recognize the balance of Courage to change things where they can be.
Rather than promote this by emphasizing the latter part of the prayer, the reader is left with the impression that that element is not present and therefore the entire approach unhealthy. A few other elements of the book seem to pick up on this theme and this reader was left with the impression that another subtle agenda was at work on the part of one, some or all of the authors or the editor that really wasn't necessary.
Groups that utilize and include the Serenity Prayer in their programs to help change lives and destructive addictive patterns know that the success rates in groups that address all elements of a person are more successful than those that are practised solely in cold, clinical settings.
That said, this reviewer can still recommend the book to those seeking to expand their knowledge in this field. There is much here to learn from and build a foundation to learn more in this continually growing field of study.