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Divide or Conquer

Action Design partner Diana McLain Smith has written a path-breaking book, Divide or Conquer:  How Great Teams Turn Conflict Into Strength.  A brief overview:

Despite our best efforts to create great teams and more flexible organizations, too many still look as territorial and bureaucratic as ever. That’s because we’ve overlooked the single most important leverage point for change: relationships.

No one today would dispute the idea that relationships matter. Flatter hierarchies, tighter interdependencies, efforts to move decision-making down in organizations all depend on the quality of people’s relationships.

Yet despite their importance, relationships remain largely a mystery. We know that relationships matter, but not exactly why or how. Like a firm’s culture, relationships are part of the informal side of organizational life: the soft stuff that’s hard to see, grasp, or change.

Based on over 25 years of research, Divide or Conquer remedies this problem by providing a navigational system with which to see and traverse - with far greater intelligence - that often unpredictable and sometimes treacherous terrain called “relationships.”

Whether you’re a senior executive or a new employee, Divide or Conquer shows you what it takes to succeed together.



What people are saying about the book:

“One of the most enlightening and useful books I’ve read about that indomitable, freighted four-syllable word that has the power to destroy dreams and lives - or enliven them:  relationships.  Smith has a unique style, smart and deft, coupled with a fresh sense of humor.”
— Warren Bennis, distinguished professor of business, University of Southern California, and coauthor (with Noel Tichy), Judgment

“Work relationships are like the weather - everybody talks a lot about them, but most think they can’t do much about them.  Such fatalism soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, resulting in mediocre and frustrating teams at all levels.  A master adviser to teams, Diana Smith persuasively shows how those who truly care about performance and relationships can simultaneously nurture both.”
— Peter Senge, author, The Fifth Discipline

“The most original ideas on conflict in years…  A must read for anyone interested in making their organization a success.”
— Roger Fisher, author of Getting to Yes