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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2004
I work for a leading health care company and went through one of Watkins's transition forum programs here. If really helped me get off to a running start. We also got his negotiation book, Breakthrough Business Negotiation, which also was very helpful. I've since also read his book on influencing government and business strategy, Winning the Influence Game. Definitely helpful if you are dealing with issues of regulation and reimbursement as we are. It's nice to see him getting recognition for the First 90 days, but his earlier stuff is just as good, if negotiation or influence are important to what you do.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2005
If I could give this book no stars, I would. This book is horrible. It contains everything William Zinsser warned us about in his classic book "On Writing Well." As a new manager I was keen to learn the "how's" of doing the job well. On the outside, this book appeared to be what I needed to help me. I should have read further than the first few pages. "A-Item" action lists, imminently notable ways of expediting your acceleration through your transition, persuading your "convincibles" to "acculturate" themselves to the company's mode of operation....? Huh? (I studied English in university, by the way.) I made it to about page 175 before I collapsed from the fatigue induced by my attempts to decipher what it was Watkins was trying to tell me. Buried among the euphemisms, coined jargon, and plain bad writing, I'm sure, are some valuable lessons for new managers. But untangling the language makes this read less enjoyable and more like a chore. Save your time and money. My advice: read Marcinko. He's brash, he's crude, and he writes much better. He's what I needed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2004
Don't get me wrong, Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" is a classic read on accomplishing your goals as a leader. Where Sun Tsu tells you how to wage the war, Watkin's tell you how to wage and win the first and most crucial task of it. Best of all, Watkin's book is very straightforward and easy to understand. No bravado, no bull, no self-inflated ego like so many "leadership" books.
Some of his points will make you say, "Duh! Everybody should know that" but he combines those items with other insights that are useful and worthy of consideration. Are you prone to action? Great! What if the leadership role you're taking is with a team that's already successful and you need to build the case to be better? Do you know what the early win is then? What if the team is just starting to stumble but in denial? Do you know your blind spot as a leader? This book answers those questions.
The book doesn't provide a sure to fail cookie cutter plan. It provides some needed mental pokes for you to create action items, checkpoints and items to review for yourself. It'll help clarify what your real goals are stepping into a given situation, establish your plan and speed your way to self reinforcing success. Simply, it's excellent reading for anybody taking a new position at any level.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2003
As someone who recently moved into my first executive role, i found this book very helpful in focusing on early wins and in developing and accelerating momentum in my new role. It forced me to balance thinking with action...Stongly recommend it for a general mgmt transition. in the book force you to take an outside-in view of your new role.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2003
I am the CEO of a successful holding company involved in diversification. I was drawn to this book because I was looking for a roadmap for leaders to jump start their success. This wonderful book provides the necessary critical strategies. I recommend that leaders on all levels read this book and another, Optimal Thinking: How To Be Your Best Self to understand the shortcomings of suboptimal thinking in corporate culture and to create a team of optimizers who optimize every situation. Five stars for each of these books!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a revised and updated edition of a book I read when it was published in 2003. Although much has (and hasn't) happened in the business world since then, Michael Watkins' insights are (if anything) even more relevant and more valuable now than they were then because the actions taken by those in a new role, especially one with more challenging leadership responsibilities, will largely determine whether they succeed or fail. "When leaders derail," Watkins notes, "their problems can almost always be traced to vicious cycles that developed in the first few months on the job." Ninety percent of those whom Watkins interviewed agreed that "transitions into new roles are the most challenging times in the professional lives of leaders." They could be internal promotions, reassignments and/or relocations, or a new hire. These and other transitions are thoroughly discussed in the book.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Watkins' coverage.

o Avoiding Transition Traps (Pages 5-6)
o Understanding the Fundamental Principles (9-12)
o Getting promoted (21-24)
o Table 1-1, "Onboarding checklists" (34)
o Identifying the Best Sources of Insight (54-57)
o Table 2-1, "Structured methods for learning" (61-62)
o "Emotional Expensiveness" (63-64)
o Planning for Five [Transition-Specific] Conversations (90-93)
o Planning the Expectations Conversation (98-100)
o Adopting Basic Principles (121-122)
o Avoiding Common Alignment Traps (141-143)
o Getting Started (146-148)
o Avoiding Common Team-Building Traps (167-170)
o Building Support for Early-Win Objectives (202-220)
o Understanding the Three Pillars of Self-Management (227-237)
o Table 10-1, "Reasons for transition failures" (245)

The information, insights, and counsel he provides in this book reveal what he has learned thus far about what he characterizes as "The Vicious Cycle of Transition" and "The Virtuous Cycle of Transitions." The former involves sticking with what you know, falling prey to the "action imperative," setting unrealistic expectations, attempting to do too much, coming in with "the" answer, engaging in the wrong kind of learning, and neglecting horizontal relationships. (Please check out Figure 1-2 on Page 7.)

With regard to the latter cycle, the "virtuous" one, can enable anyone involved in a transition to create momentum and establish an upward spiral of increasing effectiveness. (Please check out Figure 1-3 on Page 8.) To repeat, this updated and expanded edition develops in greater depth and wider scope the core concepts introduced in the first edition. The objective in 2003 remains the same now: "get up to speed faster and smarter."

Michael Watkins can help each reader to do that; better yet, he can each reader, especially those with supervisory responsibilities, to help others to do that. That achievement is indeed an admirable objective. However, we are well-advised to recall Thomas Edison's observation, "Vision without execution is hallucination."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2004
There are many original great ideas presented in this book which stand alone on their own merit. But perhaps the biggest idea of the book is for companies to view a job transition as any other business process- and subsequently look to optimize it. There are so many transitions in most companies in any given year, that having a process that makes more transitions successful and the new employees effective sooner should noticeably improve the bottom line. Most importantly, this book makes you think!
Also noteworthy in this book is its straightforward organization- the book lays out 10 areas to consider during a transition, then dedicates a chapter to each, and concludes with a brief summary. The book also reads well, and has examples to clarify the 10 areas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2004
I was on day 6 of a new CEO job and everything was falling apart -- I encountered serious resistance to even minor changes that obviously needed to be made. Reading this book, I realized I had walked into a problem where management saw the company was in need of a turnaround, but the employees had no idea and saw their company as a steady success story.
Every bit of this book is gold. From how to approach change implementation based on situation, to managing upwards, to making the mental switch to your new position, it's all been helpful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2004
Great book! You don't have to be a leader, new executive, or senior manager, you may be just a new employee joining to a new company. Regardless the position you are, the ten suggested guidelines from this book still provide you a great deal of practical advice, especially the chapter of 'Negotiate Success', which addresses how you should setup and manage the expectation between you & your new boss. Very helpful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2004
I bought this book in anticpation of a move that never happened. That said, it was remarkably useful even in my current position. It helped me frame many of my career experiences in a larger context, and when I do make a move in the future, I will be prepared for it.
I even bought it for a friend as a "happy new job" gift. She loved it, too.
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