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Article 20

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In Part 18-19, I listed some of the best books I have read for managing and developing people. They are:

  1. First, Break All The Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, Gallup Organization [ref. 1]
  2. Discover Your Strengths,  Marcus Buckingham [ref. 2]
  3. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck – recommended by Bill Gates! [ref. 3]
  4. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Kindle Edition, Shawn Achor [ref. 4]
  5. Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, Kindle Edition, Gabriele Oettingen  [ref. 5]

I also promised I will provide a summary of these books in subsequent articles.  Here is the SECOND one.

Book Summary – Discover Your Strengths 

The author Buckingham explains, “When you see a strength in action, you see a person’s ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific activity.”

In his first book, First Break ALL The Rules, Marcus Buckingham suggests – “Discover strengths by interviewing carefully.”

I submit this is not a good solution!

R&D Managers are not professional psychologists, anthropologists or social scientists, most of them became managers because they demonstrated good technical skills and perhaps good communication/political savvy. Most managers hardly hire half a dozen people per year, so their interviewing skills are likely to be not-so-good with perhaps a few exceptions.

R&D Managers are not social or psychology researchers, so they do not have the domain expertise to categorize their hires, scientist/engineers in social, communication, people, managerial and leadership skills.
Since they do not have a standardized list of people skills/categories, they cannot assess and rank the interviewees.
Chances are these managers will never generate enough data in 5 to 10 years to make the study scientific and feel comfortable with their assessments.

Thankfully Marcus Buckingham and his coworkers recognized these problems and therefore developed and made available a science-based test instrument to assess people’s skills and automatically categorize them. Discover Your Strengths is a book that is dedicated to the discussion of this test instrument and offers to test each person for free who buys the book ( about $15).

Here are a few points to keep in mind.

  • Discover Your Strengths is an excellent trait assessment tool; it is based on test and assessment of thousands of managers.
  • Strength characterization is not a pass/fail tool. Everyone is different. Everyone is strong in some areas and weak in some other areas. 
  • The book identifies and lists 34 characteristics shown in the Table 1. [ref. 9]  Look at each strength name in the first column; most have a registered trademark symbol, indicating that the Gallup Poll uses these strengths to have specific meanings. 

 

An Example:

Several years ago I decided to use discover-your- strengths concepts for my small software and consulting business, so I took the simple test that takes about 45 minutes. I got an 11 page report, which identified my top five strengths. The report also provided a one paragraph explanation for each of the top strengths with examples. My summary test results are shown in the sidebar and in Table 2, and designated as “Person M.” I liked the test results and its implications enough, that I made it a standard procedure. As an early start I asked my two colleagues -managers to take the same test. Their test results are shown as “Person E” and “Person F”

I was pleasantly surprised with my test results.  When I took the test, I did not know my strengths. Psychologists say we develop these strengths in our early years almost unconsciously so we cannot name/label them; however, if we ask someone, a non-family member, who knows us very well, he may be able to articulate them. I think the results are dead on. The StrengthFinder Test says the top three results are likely to be 90% accurate! Two additional key points that Marcus Buckingham points out in the two books:

  1. If I am working on a problem that uses my top strengths, I will work much faster, kind of like highway speed rather than the side street speed.
  2.  Also I will feel like work is all play rather than drudgery!



Now It is Your Turn:

  1. When will you read the Discover Your Strengths and take the online test?
  2. Would it make sense to offer the same opportunity to your colleagues and subordinates?
  3. How will you summarize your new learning? 
  4. How will you use the learning to massively increase your productivity? 
  5. Your teams’ productivity?

So crank up your Product Development engines... Let us speedup new product development and growth rates. And let the fun begin!


References:

1.First, Break All The Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, Gallup Organization. See also http://www.gallup.com/press/176069/first-break-rules-world-greatest-managers-differently.aspx 

2.Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham. See also https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/ 

3.Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck - recommended by Bill Gates! 

4. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Kindle Edition, Shawn Achor 

5.Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, Kindle Edition, Gabriele Oettingen 

6.Ivan Bjelajac First, Break All the Rules - Key Takeaways, keytakeaways.io/books/first-break-all-the-rules/

7.Abhinav Gulyani, First Break All the Rules Book Summary Archives, gulyani.com/tag/first-break-all-the-rules-book-summary/

8. https://www.viacharacter.org/www 

9.http://www.strengthstest.com/strengths-finder-themes

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