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The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

An antidote to sink or swim

This book is not just for managers at the executive level. It's also for you and me. It's for functional managers, project managers, and supervisors. The book targets new leaders at all levels that are making the transition from one rung of the ladder to the next. I...
This book is not just for managers at the executive level. It's also for you and me. It's for functional managers, project managers, and supervisors. The book targets new leaders at all levels that are making the transition from one rung of the ladder to the next. If you have just been promoted to a new leadership position (or expect to be soon), then this book is for you. The book outlines ten strategies that will shorten the time it takes you to reach what Watkins calls the breakeven point: the point at which your organization needs you as much as you need the job. Here they are ... the ten strategies: 1. PROMOTE YOUSELF. Make a mental break from your old job. Prepare to take charge in the new one. Don't assume that what has made you successful so far will continue to do so. The dangers of sticking with what you know, working hard at doing it, and failing miserably are very real. 2. ACCELERATE YOUR LEARNING. Climb the learning curve as fast as you can in your new organization. Understand markets, products, technologies, systems, and structures, as well as its culture and politics. It feels like drinking from a fire hose. So you have to be systematic and focused about deciding what you need to learn. 3. MATCH STRATEGY TO SITUATION. There are no universal rules for success in transitions. You need to diagnose the business situation accurately and clarify its challenges and opportunities. The author identifies four very different situations: launching a start-up, leading a turnaround, devising a realignment, and sustaining a high-performing unit. You need to know what your unique situation looks like before you develop your action plan. 4. SECURE EARLY WINS. Early victories build your credibility and create momentum. They create virtuous cycles that leverage organizational energy. In the first few weeks, you need to identify opportunities to build personal credibility. In the first 90 days, you need to identify ways to create value and improve business results. 5. NEGOTIATE SUCCESS. You need to figure out how to build a productive working relationship with your new boss and manage his or her expectations. No other relationship is more important. This means having a series of critical talks about the situation, expectations, style, resources, and your personal development. Crucially, it means developing and gaining consensus on your 90-day plan. 6. ACHIEVE ALIGNMENT. The higher you rise in an organization, the more you have to play the role of organizational architect. This means figuring out whether the organization's strategy is sound, bringing its structure into alignment with its strategy, and developing the systems and skills bases necessary to realize strategic intent. 7. BUILD YOUR TEAM. If you are inheriting a team, you will need to evaluate its members. Perhaps you need to restructure it to better meet demands of the situation. Your willingness to make tough early personnel calls and your capacity to select the right people for the right positions are among the most important drivers of success during your transition. 8. CREATE COALITIONS. Your success will depend on your ability to influence people outside your direct line of control. Supportive alliances, both internal and external, will be necessary to achieve your goals. 9. KEEP YOUR BALANCE. The risks of losing perspective, getting isolated, and making bad calls are ever present during transitions. The right advice-and-counsel network is an indispensable resource 10. EXPEDITE EVERYONE. Finally, you need to help everyone else - direct reports, bosses, and peers - accelerate their own transitions. The quicker you can get your new direct reports up to speed, the more you will help your own performance. This book is not only relevant on the individual level. This transition process for new managers happens so often that it should be handled with more professionalism by (big) organizations. Whereas we as managers try t

posted by Anonymous on December 28, 2004

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

wonderful audio design

This book has the normal business drab, with little new information for emerging leaders. I do admire the overall design of the audio program. This is the first audio book that I've read that has the figures included as a .pdf file on the last disk. Many a time I ...
This book has the normal business drab, with little new information for emerging leaders. I do admire the overall design of the audio program. This is the first audio book that I've read that has the figures included as a .pdf file on the last disk. Many a time I have been forced to find a hardcover copy of the book to see the figures the author discusses.

posted by Anonymous on July 27, 2006

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  • Posted November 13, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is a great and practical guide to help any leader tran

    This book is a great and practical guide to help any leader transition into a new job, position, and organization--within 90 days (a critical timeframe to be considered as "hitting the ground running"). There's a checklist at the end of every chapter to help you absorb key lessons, apply them to your situation, and tailor them to your own transition plan. The book is loaded with practical strategies, lessons, and advice for a smooth transition.

    The First 90 Days - Chapter Summaries:

    INTRODUCTION: THE FIRST 90 DAYS

    - The actions you take in your first three months in a new job will largely determine whether you succeed or fail.

    1. Promote Yourself: Make the mental break from your old job and prepare to take charge in the new one. The biggest pitfall you face is to assume that what has made you successful to this point in your career will continue to do so.

    2. Accelerate Your Learning: Accelerate the learning curve as fast as you can in your new organization. Understand its markets, products, technologies, systems, structures, and culture, and politics.

    3. Match Strategy to Situation: Diagnose the business situation accurately and clarify its challenges and opportunities.

    4. Secure Early Wins: Early wins build your credibility and create momentum.

    5. Negotiate Success: Figure out how to build a productive working relationship with your new boss and manage his/her expectations. Plan for a series of critical conversations. Develop and gain consensus on your 90-day plan.

    6. Achieve Alignment: Figure out whether the organization's strategy is sound. Bring its structure into alignment with its strategy.

    7. Build Your Team: If you are inheriting a team, evaluate its members and restructure it to better meet the demands of the situation. Make tough early personnel calls.

    8. Create Coalitions: Influence people outside your direct line of control. Rely on supportive alliances, internal and external, to achieve your goals.

    9. Keep Your Balance: Work hard to maintain your equilibrium and preserve your ability to make good judgments.

    11. Expedite Everyone: Help everyone in your organization accelerate their own transitions.

    CONCLUSION: BEYOND SINK OR SWIM
    - The biggest danger you face is belief in a one-size-fits-all rule for success.

    All in all, The First 90 Days is now one of my absolute favorites, right up there with the other leadership must read Leadership 2.0.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2004

    An antidote to sink or swim

    This book is not just for managers at the executive level. It's also for you and me. It's for functional managers, project managers, and supervisors. The book targets new leaders at all levels that are making the transition from one rung of the ladder to the next. If you have just been promoted to a new leadership position (or expect to be soon), then this book is for you. The book outlines ten strategies that will shorten the time it takes you to reach what Watkins calls the breakeven point: the point at which your organization needs you as much as you need the job. Here they are ... the ten strategies: 1. PROMOTE YOUSELF. Make a mental break from your old job. Prepare to take charge in the new one. Don't assume that what has made you successful so far will continue to do so. The dangers of sticking with what you know, working hard at doing it, and failing miserably are very real. 2. ACCELERATE YOUR LEARNING. Climb the learning curve as fast as you can in your new organization. Understand markets, products, technologies, systems, and structures, as well as its culture and politics. It feels like drinking from a fire hose. So you have to be systematic and focused about deciding what you need to learn. 3. MATCH STRATEGY TO SITUATION. There are no universal rules for success in transitions. You need to diagnose the business situation accurately and clarify its challenges and opportunities. The author identifies four very different situations: launching a start-up, leading a turnaround, devising a realignment, and sustaining a high-performing unit. You need to know what your unique situation looks like before you develop your action plan. 4. SECURE EARLY WINS. Early victories build your credibility and create momentum. They create virtuous cycles that leverage organizational energy. In the first few weeks, you need to identify opportunities to build personal credibility. In the first 90 days, you need to identify ways to create value and improve business results. 5. NEGOTIATE SUCCESS. You need to figure out how to build a productive working relationship with your new boss and manage his or her expectations. No other relationship is more important. This means having a series of critical talks about the situation, expectations, style, resources, and your personal development. Crucially, it means developing and gaining consensus on your 90-day plan. 6. ACHIEVE ALIGNMENT. The higher you rise in an organization, the more you have to play the role of organizational architect. This means figuring out whether the organization's strategy is sound, bringing its structure into alignment with its strategy, and developing the systems and skills bases necessary to realize strategic intent. 7. BUILD YOUR TEAM. If you are inheriting a team, you will need to evaluate its members. Perhaps you need to restructure it to better meet demands of the situation. Your willingness to make tough early personnel calls and your capacity to select the right people for the right positions are among the most important drivers of success during your transition. 8. CREATE COALITIONS. Your success will depend on your ability to influence people outside your direct line of control. Supportive alliances, both internal and external, will be necessary to achieve your goals. 9. KEEP YOUR BALANCE. The risks of losing perspective, getting isolated, and making bad calls are ever present during transitions. The right advice-and-counsel network is an indispensable resource 10. EXPEDITE EVERYONE. Finally, you need to help everyone else - direct reports, bosses, and peers - accelerate their own transitions. The quicker you can get your new direct reports up to speed, the more you will help your own performance. This book is not only relevant on the individual level. This transition process for new managers happens so often that it should be handled with more professionalism by (big) organizations. Whereas we as managers try t

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2009

    Good summary on techniques and strategies for moving into new roles or situations

    I found the book well organized and clear in its suggestions on how to characterize new positions or organizational situations as well as strategies for assessing and planning the work ahead. Several tips around pre-planning, identifying quick wins and really thinking about the kind of organization or role you are moving into goes a long way in success. Many leaders I work with have read the book and continue to use its recommendations as they transition through organizational change.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 28, 2012

    A great process for anyone transitioning into a new role

    I found the process clear, logical and well written. I have not yet started my new role, however I intend to follow the steps as close a possible.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    New executive must read

    In my opinion, this and The Next Level (by Scott Eblin) should be required reading for all new executives. I've been in this new position for a couple months (yes, outside the 90 days noted in this title) and it is amazing to me how much of the information in each chapter applies. The chapters on Promoting Yourself, Securing Early Wins and Negotiating Success alone were worth the price of the book alone. This is a must read and a welcome edition to the library.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2006

    wonderful audio design

    This book has the normal business drab, with little new information for emerging leaders. I do admire the overall design of the audio program. This is the first audio book that I've read that has the figures included as a .pdf file on the last disk. Many a time I have been forced to find a hardcover copy of the book to see the figures the author discusses.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2007

    Success beginning Day One...

    As an HR professional, I found this book to be very helpful particularly as a coaching reference for the employee promoted into a leadership role. The book provides specific information, steps and guidelines for the individual to be successful in a leadership role - at any level. An employee will have greater success in his/her new role and bring value to the organization on Day One by following the guidelines and recommendations provided in detail in this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2005

    Packed with Knowledge!

    It doesn¿t matter what level of the organization your new leadership role is in - from project supervisor to CEO - every promotion brings a period of transition, the need for new skills and a set of new expectations, challenges and opportunities. Just because you¿ve been successful in one leadership role, you can¿t assume that your old strategy will automatically succeed in your new role. It probably won¿t. Take an analytical approach. Diagnose the situation and adapt your strategy to it. Michael Watkins¿ book tells you exactly how. If you will soon begin - or have already begun - a new leadership role, this book is an invaluable resource to help you map out your strategy, get on your boss¿s good side and accelerate your transition. Watkins provides fundamental information for anyone who wants to become a leader and stay on top, because he teaches you how to make a successful transition when your time comes. We recommend this excellent book to any leader at any level who is going through or embarking on a period of transition into a new role. Here¿s how to help make the transition more successful, faster and easier - on your staff, your boss and yourself.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2004

    Good read but pricey

    This is a good book. I also read another book along the same lines as this one that was more condensed, less charts and graphs and about 1/2 the price. If you can for go the graphs and charts I recommend 'Your First 90 Days in a new Job

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2004

    His earlier stuff is good too.

    I work for a leading health care company and went through one of Watkins's transition forum programs here. If really helped me get off to a running start. We also got his negotiation book, Breakthrough Business Negotiation, which was very helpful. I've since read his book on influencing government and business strategy, Winning the Influence Game. Definitely helpful if you are dealing with issues of regulation and legislation as we are. It's nice to see him getting recognition for the First 90 days, but his earlier work is just as good, if negotiation or influence are important to what you do.

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    Posted March 15, 2011

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    Posted June 27, 2011

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    Posted July 5, 2009

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    Posted May 27, 2011

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    Posted April 16, 2010

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    Posted July 5, 2010

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    Posted August 18, 2012

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    Posted January 1, 2012

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    Posted March 11, 2011

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