The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

BOOKS | REVIEW

February 2014
Optimizing Global Effectiveness
Self-improvement book helps foster stronger management leadership

By Vicki L. Beyer

Book02.14This slender volume brings to my mind John Prine’s monologue introducing his song “Dear Abby.” Prine tells of reading an English-language newspaper in Rome, Italy: “All the news from all around the world crammed into four pages; every time you turned the page something just jumped right out at you.”

In just 150 pages, Get a G.R.I.P.: Andrew’s Ax Guide to Global Readiness presents a complete course in managerial leadership and organizational development, devised to optimize global effectiveness. Like Prine’s experience with the Roman newspaper, every time you turn the page, something just jumps right out at you. And, like this review, every chapter begins with an apt reference to a song.

The book provides a condensed, self-administered version of Silberman’s Global Readiness® Program. The casual, first-person narrative style contributes to the dynamism of the message. You can almost hear Silberman speaking to you.

Notwithstanding the subtitle’s mention of an ax—the meaning of which I will leave for readers to discover—the central metaphor guiding the structure of the book/course is that of a tree. And, whether you’re really cutting it down or cultivating it, I also leave for readers to decide.

Beginning with the micro-view of the individual manager, characterized as seeds and roots, the book goes on to examine the rest of the tree: the trunk (underlying purpose), branches (leadership skills), and leaves (motivation) to foster stronger management leadership and a stronger organization overall. The organizational view is tailored to Japan-based companies and to enhancing their global capability.

As part of the tree structure of the book, each thematic section is divided into chapters focusing on sometimes seemingly disparate concepts, ranging from diet and exercise, to embracing failure, the topic of emotional intelligence, and the use of music in the workplace.

Many of the concepts are distillations or syntheses of ideas contained in other management courses and self-improvement books. As one of my graduate school professors once reminded me, there are no new ideas, just new approaches to old ones. Silberman’s synthesis is one of the real values of this book.

At the same time, the book’s explanations and analyses include ample reference to other books and even websites, which provides readers with further details, if desired.

Each chapter offers thought-provoking insights and exercises—often focusing on generating ideas through completion of sentence stems—requiring the diligent reader to interact with the material, resulting in personal growth and development.

A manager could equally ask subordinates to complete the same exercises on the same timeline, thereby pulling everyone along on the same course.

While Silberman recommends that readers approach the book as a 32-week program, completing a chapter (and its exercises) each week, it is also possible to dip in to the book to address a particular need or hone a particular skill.

Silberman even suggests that readers could carry the book around with them, opening it to a relevant chapter or section whenever they have 15 minutes to spare.

The wide-ranging concepts contained in the volume make it a bit like a crazy quilt. Silberman has stitched together various pieces that don’t intuitively match, thereby creating a brilliant and previously unimagined pattern. The crazy quilt extends to the concepts, the metaphors—which are sometimes a bit mixed—and the acronyms employed. But in the end, like a crazy quilt, it works.

Vicki

DividerVicki L. Beyer is a vice president of the ACCJ.

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