I went to Linkage’s Organizational Development Summit in June just to hear Peter Block. I’d first come across his name while reviewing the Software Engineering Institute’s documents on Risk Taxonomy for IT projects. In a footnote to Software Risk Evaluation (SRE) Method Description (Version 2), the SEI Risk Management team refers to his first book:
[W]e have taken our inspiration from Peter Block’s Flawless Consulting (Pfeiffer & Co., 1981), a text that has been used for years in the Consulting Skills Workshop developed by the SEI, and one which I recommend to anyone who is engaged in helping an organization to change the way it approaches its work. Certainly initiating an effective risk management program for a project is an endeavor which will call for the greatest consulting skills that the people involved can muster, whether they are outside consultants or have been drawn from staff positions within the organization. [CMU/SEI-99-TR-029, pp. xi]
I found their approach so interesting and respectful that I went in search of Mr. Block’s book. Unfortunately, the bookseller down in BL didn’t carry it on the shelves. Instead, I ran across his latest tome, The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters.
This book floored me.
Answer has a very simple message: stop waiting for someone else to run your life. There’s a lot more to the book, but in the end it comes down to this. You don’t need more training, or a better boss or another degree, he says. You are as ready as you need to be right now to do what you really want to do, to make the change that you’ve been waiting for someone else to make, to reclaim ownership of your own life. He says it best in his talk The Right Use of Power: “Surrender to God, not to some third shift supervisor.”
I read this with Jim Collins’s Good To Great and saw a lot of common messages. Block says that he doesn’t have any research to say what will happen if you take back your life, only that letting someone else own you is no way to live. Collins research unbeknownst to him shows correlations between the ways of living suggested by Block and long-term success (correlation not causation).
Image credit: Digital television camera. © 2012 Arild Vågen (-CC BY-SA 3.0). Via Wikimedia Commons.