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September 1, 2000

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 5:53 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: The Four Disciplines at the Heart of Making Any Organization World Class by Pat Lencioni, Jossey-Bass, 190 Pages, $20.00 Hardcover, September 2000, ISBN 0787954039 Pat Lencioni, author of the 800-CEO-READ bestseller, The Five Temptations of a CEO, a book I really enjoyed, has written another terrific business fable. I love these concise stories that teach valuable lessons! Obsessions is the story of two men who start from the same background in the Bay area and build two competing consulting companies. One company is extremely successful: the clients and staff love the place, and the CEO is a gifted leader. The good CEO has four basic disciplines under which he runs his company: Be Cohesive, Be Clear, Over-Communicate, Reinforce. As a result, the senior staff makes decisions quickly, they fight for their beliefs, but if they lose, there are no hard feelings, the meetings are quick and to the point, and the company has no political infighting. The other consulting company has multiple problems: the staff is unhappy, and they are constantly losing clients. The author uses the metaphor of these similar companies to discuss his Four Disciplines. The real beauty of these simple disciplines is that they make perfect sense. But even the most logical advice is difficult to put into action. What is really slick about this fable is that the last 50 pages are what that author calls "Putting the Disciplines into Practice: A Summary and Self-Assessment." This final part of the book shows us how to expand the simple Four Disciplines, and apply them to our business, avoiding what happened to the bad company. This is the third edition of "Jack Covert Selects", and I swear this is at least the third fable I have reviewed. Definitely a trend here. I believe that business people need to learn to reexamine our standard business practices, but don't have the time we had to study theory and experiment with change. These concise fables stick in a person's head and either reinforce or make us question our ideas. Ultimately, they make us think, and try to apply them to our real-life situations. And what could be wrong about that?

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.