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The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life (J-B Warren Bennis Series) (Hardcover)

Product Description
When a hurricane warning is announced, everyone's concerns and actions become focused on that expectation; the hurricane essentially becomes the future which people are "living into." Similarly, when an organization needs to transform or make the leap to a higher level, everyone involved should be "living into" the vision of the organization's new, improved future. But in the majority of organizations, the future people are living into is based on past performance and experience, and so major transformation is almost impossible.

Steve Zaffron is, CEO of Vanto Group which has helped hundreds of companies envision and effectively implement major change and performance improvement. Zaffron and Dave Logan outline this proven system for rallying all of an organization's employees around a new vision, and more importantly, making it stick. Their focus is on making such transformations permanent and repeatable, providing practical examples from Vanto Group’s clients such as Apple, Lockheed Martin, Reebok, BHP-Billiton, Johnson & Johnson, Morgan Stanley, and many others.

From the Inside Flap
How did companies, both large and small, in different countries and industries, all achieve breakthrough performance when the odds were stacked against them?

How did an engineer turned CEO transform his New Zealand steelmaking company around in one year and become a leader in the industry? How did a 600-person team, within the largest petroleum company in Brazil, overcome skepticism and dysfunctional dynamics to achieve the biggest process integration success in history? How did a major Japanese housing manufacturer thrive despite the worst economy in a generation? How did a South African platinum mine improve its safety performance by 57 percent in one year?

All of these results were possible because people applied The Three Laws of Performance and rewrote their futures. This book will show you how to do the same in your organization and your life.

Although most of us aren't aware of it, we have a future that's already been written. Our future is written by hopes, fears, dreams, expectations, and decisions made about life. In the same way, organizations have futures written by history, circumstances, culture, aspirations, successes, and failures. These already-written futures determine and shape the level of performance that's possible for individuals and organizations.

In The Three Laws of Performance, Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan crack the code on rewriting the future for people and organizations, elevating performance to unprecedented levels.

As Warren Bennis wrote in his editor's note: "I believe this book may be one of the most important written in many years. The ideas aren't tips, tools, or steps, but are in fact laws that govern individual, group, and organizational behavior. This book can be a resource for generations to come."

A Perfect Book At the Perfect Time, January 27, 2009
By Mathew Henry (Americus, GA)

The Three Laws of Performance could not come at a better time. Unless you have been living underground cut off from communication with the outside world, you must know that the world is facing unprecedented challenges. From the economy to the environment to global terrorism, the future doesn't look pretty. In fact it looks down right depressing.

While the authors of the book may not have intended it, the ideas in this book could very well be the answer to the question "How do we get ourselves out of this mess?" The US President has recruited some of the best minds in America to his administration to fix the US banking system, jump start the economy and stop climate change. We all may be praying that they are successful, but in each of our hearts we know that we are going to need to each embrace the required change if it is to be successful.

The personal and political habits that got us where we are now will not allow us to get where we need to go. We don't need change, we need re-invention.

So what about this book?

I, like many people want to do something about the issues that we are facing. A friend of mine gave me a copy of the book to read saying that I would like it especially because of the community work that I do. I was doubtful. I found the title to be boring and I am generally not interested in business books. She said that I would like it because I have to deal with a lot of resignation, which is true. Being an environmental advocate can feel like talking to stones.

I began reading it and got immediately intrigued by the First Law of Performance:

"How people perform correlates to the way the world occurs to them"

I would have never said it that way, but it made perfect sense to me. People don't recycle because it occurs for them like it doesn't matter. People will drive out of their way to save 10 cents on a gallon of gas or to use a 2 for 1 coupon but they won't recycle. How we act in the face of climate change or the economy really does make a difference but as my friend says, we are resigned.

This is also true even in organizations where people get paid to do a job. The authors Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan contend that it is people's individual views and the language they use to describe their situations that determine the actions they take. According to the book, the way people both view and speak about situations is influenced almost exclusively by the past. This in turn limits people's ability to adapt and work cooperatively together as past successes and failures literally limit their view of what is possible. This is true for both individual people as well as the organizations they are a part of. Just think of the auto industry or a losing sports team.

In most organizations, individual people feel that they have little or no say in what happens. As a result there is little or no real communication between the leaders and those they lead. The Three Laws asserts and illustrates that it is possible not just pay lip service to the notion of giving people a say in the organization but open a kind of platform for communication that is profoundly human.

An example of this comes in a surprisingly moving passage from the book where two women, working at the Lonmin Platinum Mine in South Africa, one black and one white were able to speak openly about their personal experiences of apartheid with one another and thus heal wounds they had carried since their childhoods. On the surface this conversation had almost nothing to do with the operations of a mine. Presumably mines care about productivity, profitability and safety, yet the legacy of distrust from apartheid and the fact that no one was willing to talk about it openly affected all of those things. The book goes on to tell the story of how a new spirit of trust developed at Lonmin and surrounding community.

The book is loaded with similar examples from real organizations all of which are used to illustrate the basic assertions of the book. I was finding it almost hard to believe until I read the endorsement from Bishop Desmond Tutu:

"God invites each of us to participate in the process of transforming the world - to create a world in which every person knows their infinite and irreplaceable worth and can truly fulfill their potential. This book filled with insights, real-life encounters and experiences, shows us how we may do this work of transformation. Applicable in the corporate, labour, political and civil society sectors - Steve and David have written an inspiring, practical book that will assist all who seek to rewrite the future of our world."

I must admit that I am one who seeks to rewrite the future of our world. I don't think I am very different than most people. As I said this is the right book at the right time.