A Toolbox for All the New Leaders

The First 90 Days – Michael Watkins, Harvard Business School Press

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

In short

This book gives you a framework to follow when changing into a new management position. It helps you to survive the transition process and to speed it up to gain quick wins. Based on my own experience, you will find most of the content useful in lower levels of management as well.

What is the book all about

The Book is a collection of “Critical Success Strategies” for everyone facing a new leadership/management position. These are my favorite strategies from the book:

  1. Create yourself a learning agenda and a learning plan – In order to get quickly up to speed; you need to gather as much relevant knowledge of the situation as you can.
  2. STaRS model – You learn to quickly identify the situation you are in and the specific requirements that match the circumstances. This will be done using the STaRS model provided in the book (your work is in either Startup, Turnaround, Realignment or Sustaining success situation).
  3. Have targets both short and long term – It is important to secure early wins and to establish long-term goals. Short wins help to establish you in your position and create a winning helix that helps to reach higher.
  4. The 90-day plan – Create a plan for your first 90 days – split it into 3 thirty-day chunks with each of their own goals. You ensure the focus on the right things at the right time in the beginning of your new position or job.

What I love about the book

The book is very concrete with advice that works in a real world (I have tested many of these tips myself). You are left with a feeling of knowing how to do better at your next job or a project.

What could be better

The chapters and the tips are loosely connected. It is hard to get the whole picture. You tend to focus only one few tactics, instead of a comprehensive approach. There should be one chapter that focuses on building you an image of the whole model.

Who is responsible of it all – Michael Watkins

Dr. Michael D. Watkins is a former professor from IMD, INSEAD, Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government. I had not heard of him before, but he seems to be an expert in accelerating transitions. Read more about Michael Watkins in his own website.

Taking it all together

My former boss suggested this book to me. I keep seeing it on different professionals’s tables or bookshelves. To me that is a quality stamp. I believe this book belongs to compulsory reading list of every professional working on a project management level and beyond. You will need to work to get the most out of it. If you do, it will pay off.

The book “The First 90 Days” is available for example fromAmazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

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