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Workarounds That Work: How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work Hardcover – Dec 15 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (Dec 15 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 007175203X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071752039
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 15.8 x 23.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #315,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 27 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that could be useful for any number of involved social situations we may find ourselves in during the course of our daily lives. While Bishop, an editor for the Huffington Group, confines most of his remarks to the corporate boardroom with respect to solving major problems threatening the workplace, they can also apply to any place involving fragile and complex human relations in other settings. Again and again, Bishop clearly describes the many different kinds of dysfunctional behaviour that prevents organizations from realizing their true potential. Each chapter comes with a set of well-thought-out strategies for getting around a specific problem, whether it be miscommunication, misaligned leadership, culture clash, decision paralysis, lack of personal commitment, ineffective meetings or information overload. Everything seems to come down to how the members of the group are willing to work together to identify and solve problems in a fashion that draws on individual skills to realize the common good. For instance, holding meetings with the purpose of resolving problems generally creates a collective mindset that prepares people to work around issues with a greater personal commitment to getting answers. Planning with the idea of having a process in place for putting those ultimate decisions into action is critical to realizing common goals. Above all else, management should honor those who encourage the employment of the all-important trouble-shooting tactics that overcome impasses, reduce stress, create greater efficiency, and result in greater productivity. The main emphasis here is how to get individuals to buy into the team concept without losing face or feeling alienated by impersonal forces.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 34 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Finally, a weak team player won't stop you... Dec 30 2010
By Mike Michalowicz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book should be called a field guide, more than a book. I have had multiple times that my project involved groups. 4 or 5 people responsible for working together to get something done, and sure enough one person is late (and often finger points). One person late, makes everyone late.

Mr. Bishop's book gives excellent guidance. And for me it all started on page 17... we can't control others, but we can control how we respond and influence others. Lesson 1 - it's you who needs to change (not in a negative way - but in the way you behave) to make the work around.

Chapter 4 gives a strong overview of "framing" - the problem is often how the problem is framed. I found a few new techniques here for framing strategies. This is a pretty impressive section of the book.

All sections (page 167 is a perfect examples) have a "checklist" of questions to use in different workaround strategies.

Email etiquette was really a good read too. I think it is my natural tendency to think of workarounds as a face to face communication, the email section keeps the balance of all communication that is necessary.

While a few parts of the book were not new to me (but a good refresher), I discovered some new stuff. And the overall format was a helpful guide. I plan to use as a reference tool (hence I call it a field guide) going forward.

I recommend the book!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Don't let anything stop you! Jan. 13 2011
By Chauncey Bell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Workarounds that Work, Russell Bishop models - in his way of speaking, in the way he reveals himself, in the examples he brings, and in his recommendations - a way of being that revels in the challenge and joy of work, and does not flinch nor whine about the myriad roadblocks that inevitably confront anyone trying to do anything serious in life. He is a joyful warrior in the middle of the mess of modern working life. Russell shows clearly the power of humility, gratitude, an indomitable spirit, a commitment to find alternatives and not remain stuck in ruts, and the soft underbellies of the enemies we face in everyday working life.

I often say that the last of the five greatest generators of waste in our modern working world - the interpretation that we are doomed to a kind of indentured servitude called `work' - is the nastiest and most destructive of the sources of waste in our working lives. `Thank God it's Friday' - the announcement that we toil away five days of every week just waiting for a brief respite of freedom and meaning each weekend - is our declaration that we consider 5/7ths of our lives wasted. A tragedy.

Russell's book is an antidote to work as toil, and full of good things.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Spiritual Guide Masquerading as a Business Handbook Jan. 13 2011
By Arthur Rosenfeld - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Many books in this category work their magic from the outside in. That is to say they examine the circumstances, obstacles and issues and propose external solutions. Other books in the genre turn this around and go from the inside out, looking at the prejudices, presuppositions, habits and addictions we harbor on the inside, and how they manifest in our external life. "Workarounds That Work" is a rare find in that it examines its topic from both directions. Thus, in addition to advice on how to organize your in boxes, we see lines like "What could you do that would make a difference in your job that requires no one's approval, cooperation, support, or agreement other than your own?", concepts like "time management problems are really self management problems", and chapter heads like "Multitasking Our Way to Oblivion", wherein Bishop proposes substituting the setting of multiple goals to the juggling of multiple tasks.

There are many practical gems for business people here, but more you read, the more you realize that "Workarounds That Work" is a personal development guide hidden as a business handbook. Spirituality circulates through the book's business meat and management gristle like blood through bone. It's a treat of a read for a much wider swath of readers than its category feel would suggest. Here's hoping that in his next book, this practical sage will be brave enough to cross the line he only touches with his toe in this one and give us his thoughts on the repurposing of business so that profits are not the Holy Grail, but rather merely a tool for the development of employees and community.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
If a Frog Could Fly... March 26 2011
By greene1004 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm an avid reader of productivity books, a convert to GTD, and in favor of rightsizing my job, getting to yes, making things work.
I bought this book based on David Allen's endorsement.
I read it last night.
Here's the core message: be upbeat, be positive, act like a manager even if you are not, and though the only employee you manage is you. Make lots of lists of questions. Sit down and talk to everybody.
Fine. I agree.
But what is missing from this long list of workarounds is:
how to workaround fellow employees that undermine you? Bosses that fear success by subordinates? Working in a place where everyone knows what needs to be done but has agreed the best course is not to do it (municipal bureaucracies, for instance)? Where under-performing workers have job protection and can't be fired? Where even if you work better and more gets done you won't be rewarded and someone just above you will?

In short, the organizationally obvious, easy to do, "low-hanging fruit" is all here to be plucked, while the hard questions (above) that everyone I know desperately needs workarounds for, are nowhere addressed.

However, if you are a manager or a unit leader with some power to hire, fire, transfer, and reassign, but have forgotten that it helps to talk to people,, if you have problems making decisions, don't understand what a meeting is for or how to prepare for it, can't prioritize an e-mail inbox (how did this person get in charge, by the way?),and a variety of similar concerns then this book has a lot to teach you.

And author's candid admission: nothing in this book will work for long and a lot of it won't work at all. Nuff' said.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Very good, but falls short in a key area April 4 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As is useful in all thought-based leadership works Mr. Bishop has come up with some very clever questions to ask when you are faced with bottlenecks such as "what can I do right now that will involve no one's approval but my own?" The author challenges the reader to see the perspective of others in how others perceive themselves as creating value while you may see them as a bottleneck.

However, the more I delved into the read I became increasingly frustrated with its naive stance in certain areas. While it is always best to first assume that people operate with the best intentions, it is clear that there are individuals at nearly all workplaces that serve as a bottleneck for political gain at the expense of the organization. While these types of individuals are mentioned in the work, more focus on working around their motivations would have been useful, especially in light of their prevalence in the workplace. Techniques on diffusing these types of power-seeking individuals and a bit less naivete on the motivations of others would have made this a more complete and realistic work.

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