Problems remain hidden in organizations for a number of reasons, including fear, organizational complexity, gatekeepers who insulate leaders from problems that are coming up, and finally, an overemphasis on formal analysis in place of intuition and observation. This book lays out the key skills and capabilities required to ensure that problems do not remain hidden in your organization. It explains how leaders can become effective problem finders, unearthing problems before they destroy an organization. The book explains how leaders can become an anthropologist, going out and observe how employees, customers, and suppliers actually behave. It then goes on to present how they can circumvent the gatekeepers, so they can go directly to the source to see and hear the raw data; hunt for patterns, including refining your individual and collective pattern recognition capability; "connect the dots" among issues that may initially seem unrelated, but in fact, have a great deal in common; give front-line employees training in a communication technique; encourage useful mistakes, including create a "Red Pencil Award"; and watch the game film, where leaders reflect systematically on their own organization's conduct and performance, as well as on the behavior and performance of competitors.
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"Dr. Roberto has skillfully managed to blend in-depth research with his straightforward and enjoyable style and, in doing so, painted a masterpiece that should be considered by any institution or individual looking to detect or solve problems. Presenting cases and their lessons from multiple venues, he offers wisdom readily applicable to any arena."--Duane Deal, Brigadier General, United States Air Force (Retired) "Solving problems is one thing; finding them early enough to do something about it is quite another. In this entertaining book full of insight and examples, Michael Roberto provides managers with hands-on recommendations on how to avoid falling into decision-making traps by getting a step ahead."--Sydney Finkelstein, Steven Roth Professor of Management, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and author of "Why Smart Executives Fail "and "Think Again" "In typical style, Mike Roberto gets right to the heart of major challenges facing businesses in today's rapidly changing landscape. He provides not only a burning platform for thinking differently, but also practical tools for busy leaders to implement following an 'action learning' approach." --Jon Shepherd, Chief Learning Officer, Mars Inc. In "Know What You Don't Know," best-selling author Michael Roberto shows leaders how to go beyond mere "problem solving" to uncover and address emerging problems while they're still manageable-before they mushroom into disaster! Roberto first identifies the diverse, sometimes surprising reasons why problems typically fester in the shadows, ignored and unaddressed. Next, he systematically introduces seven powerful solutions. You'll discover how to become a business "anthropologist," observing how your employees, customers, and suppliers actually behave, not just how they're "supposed" to behave. Roberto shows how and when to circumvent your gatekeepers to see crucial raw data...how to "connect the dots" among issues that seem unrelated, but are really signs of a deeper pattern...how to promote candor among front-line employees...encourage "useful" mistakes, and more. Along the way, Roberto offers powerful insights for overcoming the "isolation trap" so many senior executives face: the trap that can keep you assuming everything is fine, while your company's problems are spiraling out of control! - Watch your company's "game film"-and your competitors'
"Systematically understand how your company is really behaving and performing-and how you really match up " - Recognize the value of "small failures"
"Use small problems as a window on your system-and a signal of possible weaknesses elsewhere" - Get beyond the numbers, to the reality
"Discover why too much formal analysis can actually hide your problems-and start leveraging the value of intuition" - Become a true business "ethnographer"
"Observe your people in their natural setting-and recognize what they're not telling you"
Michael A. Roberto is the Trustee Professor of Management at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, after six years as a faculty member at Harvard Business School. His research, teaching, and consulting focus on strategic decision-making processes and senior management teams. He is the author of Why Great Leaders Don’t Take Yes for an Answer (Wharton School Publishing, 2005).
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