New review of my book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +2
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
Nov 14, 2013
thought: could the system vs goal thing be scaled up to the department and/or organization level?

I was listening to a story on NPR about microsoft dumping the force rank review system as yahoo was implementing it which got me to thinking about the whole employee review process in general. having shoveled a fair # of hours into what feels like a bureaucratic furnace over the last few years it occurs to me that most (if not all) companies take a very goal-centric approach to this but invariably reorgs, market disruptions (iPhone/iPad, recessions, etc), new C-levels (what?!? you aren't in the CLOUD?!? I don't care if it would cost us more at our scale - I read an article on my flight to SXSW that says we need to!) & numerous other forces completely out of employees' control usually render around 1/2 their objectives set at beginning of year moot. naturally what ends up happening at year end is an exercise in reverse-engineering where you try to hammer what they actually did & how well they did it into obsolete goals. in effect, as a manager you're SWAG-ing a SYSTEM grade w/o calling it that!

is there a way to realign the whole employee review process to be system-oriented up front? it would provide more meaningful feedback, eliminate a lot of wasted time at beginning/end of year and actually improve the credibility of the process w/employees (since it would no longer be a reverse-engineered rationale)?
Nov 13, 2013

[It's a very positive review so one wonders why there are three dislikes on the thread. :(]

Maybe cause folks would like Scott to blog about other stuff? The last two blogs were good enough, but before that he was going on a lot about his new book and now hes returned to the topic. OK, I get it, he wants it to be a success but everyone here has heard about it already. He should at least wait til we need to be reminded.
Nov 13, 2013
I have almost finished reading the book, and it is probably the only book I've bought for personal reasons (i.e. not school nor work) in which I've highlighted the text.

I appreciate the clarity of Scott's writing, straightforward, direct. There are concepts which we are kinda aware of, but somewhere on the back burner in our minds, we're not actually conscious of some of them. Scott brings some of these ideas to the forefront, to the conscious mind. Much of it is obvious when it's brought to your attention, the problem up until now is that it wasn't brought to your attention. :) So in this way, I'm glad of Scott bringing these ideas to the forefront. Especially the system vs. goal, as I'm a system person, and can never come up with goals. I've always hated coming up with goals, I'd just rather ride along on whatever systems I've got in place, and see where it takes me.

Scott has a way of observing things, and not skimming over the details that most of us wouldn't give a second thought to. It's this ability to observe, identify the thing and write about it concisely, which is displayed regularly in the comic, that I'd wager many of us don't have. Makes us go "oh yeah!".

Scott also stands out as being methodical and diligent, he does not give up. That's a big one, I don't know if I have the discipline.

I'm glad I bought the book, and will be reviewing the highlighted sections once I've finished reading, to see how I can apply these to my life, and where I will start.

Nov 13, 2013
Have you been hitting the media circuit and I have been missing you? Where are your interviews on Morning Edition, All things Considered, Fresh Air, Bob Edwards, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report...?
Nov 13, 2013
It's a very positive review so one wonders why there are three dislikes on the thread. :(
Nov 13, 2013

In India, the book is only available in hard cover and is very expensive for this genre. I don't want to read the e-book. There are more people here who will find the price tag off limits. Please get it fixed :)

+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 13, 2013
My advice: read the reviews and the comments on Amazon, some of them are quite funny.

I bought the book and I am in the middle of it. As a daily blog-reader, and also having read some of your other books, I must say that I already knew some of the content. However in this book it is all put together in such a professional way, that it is worth the money.

Some of the things I recognized from own experience:
- there is always a price you must be willing to pay for succes
- the difference between WISHING something and DECIDING to have it (that's what I always say!)

Something new that I have to chew on:
The decision to not sell your time directly, but to produce something that can be multiplied indefinitely.
In my line of work (programming and music teaching) that is difficult to realize. I will think about it.
Nov 13, 2013
HBMIndia - Your accurate description of the quota system and it's effects have happened in the UK too. No one dare speak out for fear of offending a different group and corruption has become the norm. The demands of those who shout the loudest are the only ones heard by an increasingly distant government.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 12, 2013
I liked your book and must say that I subconsciously used a hybrid of your system. I picked a major that I believed would lead to success. How could a computer systems engineer fail in the 1980s? I used specific goals to help me along the way but generally let my tiny system work its magic. I've been recommending your book to the young people I know...thanks Scott, for spelling out your system's secrets. I'm sure many people will be inspired.
+9 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 12, 2013
The reviewer said the same thing i've been thinking about Scott's new book.
It's relevant and useful for me at age 60, and I wish I'd read it 40 years ago.

It would have been great to be 20 and consciously aware of the topics and concepts Scott discusses in the book.

And even at 60, I've gleaned some insight on myself and the world around me.
Nov 12, 2013
I really enjoyed the book!

I think I've been a "system" person most of my life w/o realizing/labeling it. b/c of some !$%*!$%*!$%*! I won't go into I was kind of forced to (vs being goal oriented) at a young age but it's worked out well (at least for me) in the long run! it's kind of funny too b/c most of my management mentors have tried in vain to get me to set goals (make director by x date, make VP by y, etc) so in a way the book has been a validation that I'm not just lucky (well, I AM lucky but the things I do & the way I do them put me in position to maximize opportunity). so now rather than futile trying to become something I'm not I'm going to focus on being better at what I AM!

thanks, Scott! it's been very cathartic!
Nov 12, 2013

Let me answer Scott's question of whether a "quota" policy is bad for the world in general? Quota systems have been in force for a few decades in India now - and speaking from experience, let me welcome you to soon become part of the mediocre world (another word for third-world countries, less developed countries, etc).

Today, you have quotas for one particular group. Soon, other groups will feel discriminated against and start demanding quotas of their own. The sub-groups of the groups will feel discriminated and demand quotas of their own. In some time, your organisations will be full of diverse people who either don't know how to do their jobs or have no interest in doing them. Their only competence will be that they managed to come out of the 'wrong' womb. They will be afraid to take the smallest of decisions because they know that they do not have to do anything right to retain their job; they only have to avoid doing anything wrong. They will have no initiative except to scream "discrimination" every time anybody says anything to them. Your private sector companies will manage somehow but your government institutions will be the ones to decay fastest. Service that you take for granted today will become difficult or impossible as every time any work reaches any of these guys it will be bottle-necked. As people's work will start getting piled up, some will start offering bribes to some employees. Bribery and corruption will soon become endemic. Good administration will become impossible as every employee and every institution will gradually level down to these nincompoops. At the same time, this dross will rise to the top, thanks only to the need for so called "diversity." In another fifty-sixty years, you an kiss goodbye to everything that is good about the USA.

Maybe once in a while, they should give an Olympic gold metal to the guy who finished last, for diversity's sake.

Sorry about this rant but the quota system is probably the root of almost everything that is wrong about India and why India remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Just had to let off a little steam… whilst hoping your country does not go the same way. Wise men learn from others' mistakes, a fool insists on making his own.
Nov 11, 2013
Scott's plugging is actually working. I was planning to wait till it comes to a local library and/or my friend buys it but the constant plugging on Scott's blog is actually wanting me to buy the da** book.
Nov 11, 2013
I'm not clear on this concept of "diversity ceiling" that Scott talks about in ch 4. Does this mean that being a white male, he was the subject - multiple times, which makes me suspicious - of reverse discrimination? ("I'm sorry Mr. Adams, you're very good at what you do. You're the right person for this job. However, we must hire the wrong person because they make our diversity numbers look better?") I work for a company with a similar kind of quota, but the numbers are there to ensure that, if the white guy is hired, he truly is the best candidate. I can only conclude that you weren't really the best candidate.

[My bosses at two separate jobs told me (once each), in the clearest possible way, that the focus on diversity was the reason I couldn't be promoted to any higher position regardless of qualifications. I include the facts of the conversations in the book but I don't offer an opinion on what was in anyone else's head. Nor do I think the policy was necessarily bad for the world in general. I have no data to make a decision on that. -- Scott]
Nov 11, 2013
There are no blurbs on the cover. Whatever happened to Blurb Your Way to Fame (blog entry from 6-5-13) ?

[My publisher decided they weren't clever enough. Sorry. -- Scott]
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 11, 2013
I read the review which is very positive... but it put me off. I don't know why - but I do feel less likely to buy it now.
Nov 10, 2013
Has anyone written a negative review of your book Scott? Would you admit it and post a link for us if they had?

[Nearly every book gets some negative reviews on Amazon. But I haven't seen a negative review from a professional reviewer yet.

For non-fiction books, negative reviews are often of the "It wasn't what I expected when I bought it" type. Which isn't always the author's fault. And i often see revenge reviews because someone didn't like what I blogged about years ago. Those are obvious. -- Scott]
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 10, 2013
Enjoying the book a great deal. And yes, the down the line passing shot after going wide for a forehand is VERY hard. Unless your name is Federer or Nadal.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog