It is one of our saddest economic statistics: More than half small businesses fail within a few years of startup.
Unlike the cheery pictures presented in advertising or the success stories showcased on Shark Tank, a significant percentage of fledgling enterprises sputter and eventually die. Only 1 in 43 has any employees after 10 years. These startups don’t create much economic value. The vast majority don’t even earn as much for their founders as those people could have earned working for someone else. Dreams die, jobs are lost, and communities lose their vitality.
It does not have to be this way. In fact, if we want a robust economy with job growth, we must do something about it. I think that the solution is deceptively simple: entrepreneurs should stop thinking so much about the idea behind the business and focus instead on how to lead it.
In 2015, a man starting work at a law firm was three times more likely than a woman to make a partner. The same held for accounting and consulting firms. Women’s leadership coach Alison Temperley addresses unconscious bias and gender inequities in professional service firms. She has 30 years of experience working in and with such firms.
Even in firms that claim to be meritocracies, women don’t advance as quickly as their male counterparts. Temperley advises women to be more vocal, to express how their contributions matter, and to advocate for promotion. Although the book’s subtitle positions her overview as niche advice for women in professional firms, women in many fields will find her counsel applicable.
In this summary, you will learn.
How women can actively manage their professional careers.
Why professional service firms need to fix internal inequities.
Professor Laura Empson of London’s Cass Business School and Harvard Law School reports on intensive research into how to lead professional firms, such as law offices, and complex organizations, such as hospitals and universities. Her scholarly work, packed with citations and cross-references, details how leadership functions in a professional services environment. This layered study, funded by Great Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council, includes findings from interviews with 500 professionals in 16 countries. Empson’s exemplary and surprisingly engaging text could be a go-to guide to organizing and managing professional firms.
Citing the title of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” as an example of something people think they know but often get wrong, consultant Dan Pontefract offers a strategy for thinking more clearly and making better decisions. As he explains how his “dream, decide, do” system works, he provides real-life examples of “open thinkers” whose accomplishments stem from their deliberative cognitive practices. People tend to rush to conclusions, accept misinformation, skip nuance, or trust shallow assumptions. Instead, Pontefract says, pause to ponder. The effectiveness of your thought process depends on how well you sort evidence, reflect upon it, and challenge your conclusions.
In his book, Dan Pontefract explains how his “dream, decide, do” system works while providing real-life examples of “open thinkers” whose accomplishments stem from their deliberative cognitive practices.
In this summary, you will learn:
How “open thinking” balances “reflection and action”
How to welcome new ideas
How “creative,critical and applied thinking” improve decision making.
How to implement open thinking by using 10 basic guidelines.
You may think operating without an employee handbook gives your organization flexibility. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A good employee handbook is essential for effective people management and litigation prevention. Without one, employees don’t know where to turn for basic information on your company policies. You may think operating without a handbook gives your organization flexibility. Nothing could be further from the truth. Or perhaps your CEO wants to maintain an open-door policy and doesn’t want to be tied to written rules. It’s your job to persuade her that a well-drafted employee manual actually creates flexibility and paradoxically fosters an open-door atmosphere.
I started as a junior secretary in a law firm and eventually became an admin to a senior partner. In my personal life, I raised two children, helped save for their educations, and sent them to good colleges. I head up projects for several organizations as well as for my church. But despite all these accomplishments, I felt that I had to accomplish even more.