I have to stay, I initially got off on the wrong foot with this book. The subtitle reads "How to get what you want by saying what you mean", but in my mind "getting what you want" isn't at all what this book is about.
Also, after the first 1-2 chapters, I thought I had in my hands what is so common for many business books: One core idea (here: "care personally, challenge directly") being re-iterated over the course of an entire book.
But then, Kim Scott caught my attention. More and more anecdotes resonated with me, and I realized she lays out a full management philosophy, in addition to actionable things to try. In particular the second half of the book ("Tools & Techniques") helped me understand how to apply her ideas.
Some things I learned:
- Ruinous empathy: Presented as a common attitude of (new) managers, I can relate: You don't want to hurt the other person, so you avoid giving criticism altogether. Turns out: This doesn't help anyone and you are failing on a core responsibility: Giving meaningful guidance to people who want to improve.
- Career Conversations: Life story; dreams; 18-months plan. A structure on how to have guiding conversations with the people on your team. Help understand values and put the current position of the person in perspective to their larger career and life vision.
- Separate debate meetings from decision meetings, or at least be explicit about it. In addition, I think you could further separate the ideation phase, so that ideas aren't shot down early by (well intended) debates.
I can't and won't apply everything that's in this book. Some aspects simply don't apply. "Firing people" as described in the book just isn't legal in Germany. Other things are in fact already implemented in one way or another in the agile practices we try to live in my current team. But some concepts, while not being completely "new" perhaps, are now a lot clearer to me because Kimm Scott has given me the vocabulary to talk and think about.