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8/20/2004
03:22 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Business Technology: Attention, Fiefdom Fighters

Bob Herbold, who was Microsoft's chief operating officer during the company's megagrowth in the late '90s, has written a new book called The Fiefdom Syndrome, and it offers extremely valuable advice from someone who earlier in his career served as CIO and then senior VP of advertising at Procter & Gamble.

Throughout Herbold's lucid and engaging book, he sprinkles occasional references to two other powerful books on leadership and management: Lou Gerstner's Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? and Larry Bossidy's Execution. These connections are neither forced nor superfluous, and the external perspectives reinforce the fundamental points Herbold is making. They also give readers some great incentives to add those books to their reading lists as well.

While I enjoyed the entire book immensely--I read it in an afternoon, and I am generally a remarkably slow reader--my favorite portion was Part III: Overcoming The Fiefdom Syndrome, in which the three chapters are Balancing Discipline And Creativity, Achieving Discipline, and Fostering Creativity. Herbold offers not only anecdotes but also detailed lists of how to proceed.

And such specifics are essential because the problem, Herbold says, is so widespread: "Because the fiefdom syndrome has its origins in basic human nature, the challenges it poses are universal. The fiefdom syndrome is not tied to good or bad economic conditions or to particular managerial approaches. It can emerge in any environment. But the good news for organizations and individuals is that there are ways to deal with the fiefdom syndrome. And deal with [it] you must."

Happy reading and good luck, fiefdom fighters.

"The Fiefdom Syndrome: The Turf Battles That Undermine Careers and Companies--and How to Overcome Them" is published by Currency/Doubleday.


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