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Workarounds That Work: How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work [Hardcover]

Russell Bishop , David Allen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 5 2011

Master the Art of the Workaround to Boost Your Productivity!

“With the variety of challenges leaders face every day, Russell Bishop has hit on an amazingly simple and highly effective solution: the ‘workaround.’ This is a brilliant approach to facing day-to-day business challenges, and it works!”
—Marshall Goldsmith, world-renowned executive coach and author of the New York Times bestsellers Mojo and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

“If you want to succeed big, there is no substitute for sticking your neck out. Russell Bishop shows how to do it without getting your head chopped off. Workarounds That Work offers practical, down-to-earth advice on overcoming obstacles on the job—both big and small. It’s a must-read for anyone trying to navigate the bumpy road of the modern workplace.”
—Arianna Huffington, cofounder and editor-in-chief, the Huffington Post

Workarounds That Work tackles one problem area after another, busting myths and giving practical advice along the way.”
—Dave Logan, professor at the Marshall School of Business at USC and bestselling coauthor of Tribal Leadership

Workarounds That Work goes where none of the other productivity books go—into the messy, cky, hard-to-control stuff that we all face every single day. You’ll finish this book with a fresh ake on how to think about productivity and at least a half-dozen new ways to get things done.”
—Les McKeown, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of Predictable Success

“Today’s relentless demands of work require a new model of how we get things done. Workarounds that Work envisions work as a continuous stream of free-flowing accomplishments instead of the headaches, inefficiencies, and stresses we associate with work today. You’ll never experience red tape again.”
—Tony Schwartz, CEO, The Energy Project, and bestselling author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working

About the Book:

You’ve experienced the frustration dozens of times: you need approval on a project, but a key sign-off person is out of town; a product is on a crash schedule, but you’re missing an important detail; you need to move ahead in a process, but company rules cause delays. What you need is a workaround.

In Workarounds That Work, Russell Bishop—an expert in personal and organization transformation—teaches the art of the workaround: a method for accomplishing a task or goal when the normal process isn’t producing the desired results. Workarounds help you break through the tasks and systems that keep you from the important stuff. They even help you bring lasting change to your organization by doing away with frustrating institutional inefficiencies once and for all.

Workarounds aren’t only about getting things done. They’re about getting the right things done. To ratchet up productivity, your organization needs someone who will ask the big questions, such as:

  • How can our systems—from operational infrastructures to management processes—be more efficient and effective?
  • Do we make the most of our talent?
  • Do our teams work in isolation when collaboration would be more useful?
  • Are we wasting time, placing blame, and fighting fires when we could instead be fixing problems?
  • Is our direction clear, aligned, and focused?

Are you ready to be that person—the one who gets things done, no matter what?

Workarounds That Work explains how to identify problems that make workarounds necessary and then create the best solution available—without sacrificing quality or doing a less-than-stellar job.

With Bishop’s strategies at your disposal, you can conquer anything that stands in your way at work—even when it seems like your organization’s culture is pitted against what you know is best for it.

Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

Russell Bishop is an internationally regarded speaker, educator, coach and consultant. His corporate clients include Fortune 500 executives in aerospace, healthcare, information technology, and telecommunications. He is also an editor and frequent columnist for the Living section of The Huffington Post. A recognized expert in personal and organization transformation, Russell has coached thousands of individuals around the world, helping them to create balance and success in their personal and professional lives. Today, Russell is the founder and President of Bishop & Bishop, a consulting and coaching company whose seminars, coaching, and consulting offer individuals and organizations a new approach to integrating values into their personal and professional lives. He has lectured on productivity for the executive MBA programs at UCLA, University of Texas and Washington University in St. Louis.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars How to Troubleshoot in a Complex World! Feb. 27 2011
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
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 (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a weak team player won't stop you... Dec 30 2010
By Mike Michalowicz - Published on
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let anything stop you! Jan. 13 2011
By Chauncey Bell - Published on
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spiritual Guide Masquerading as a Business Handbook Jan. 13 2011
By Arthur Rosenfeld - Published on
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
2.0 out of 5 stars If a Frog Could Fly... March 26 2011
By greene1004 - Published on
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but falls short in a key area April 4 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
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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