It’s Not What You Say…It’s What You Do: How Following Through at Every Level Can Make or Break Your Company by Laurence Haughton.
Wow. This is a great book—it’s immediately vaulted into that short list of books that I’ll spout off when people ask me my favorites (right up there with Block’s Flawless Consulting, Senge’s Fifth Discipline and Allen’s Getting Things Done). I’m into my third reading and I know I’ll be going back for more. Let me say up front, and with all honesty, this book deserves more than just this single review. Each chapter is so rich with good information and detail that each could have stand alone reviews themselves.
One thing I really appreciate about the book is that it’s (unintentionally) a great tie-in with David Allen’s Getting Things Done. GTD is the desktop-level approach to doing what you say you’ll do, and this book is similar but at a higher elevation. Make no mistake, there are plenty of actual “things-to-do” in It’s Not What You Say…It’s What You Do, but at some point you’re going to need to manage all of those “things-to-do” so that you’re as effective as you can be. That’s where GTD steps in. These two books would be a nice combo for just about any manager.
If I understand correctly, Haughton took a couple of years to research and write this book. It shows. There are so many great ideas in here, that I keep going back to both the book and my notes to make sure I don’t miss anything. Before I get into the meat of the review, let me just say that I actually have one gripe: I really wish there was some kind of wrap up at the end of each chapter that pulls together, in a concise way, the essence of what we’ve just been through. Or at least a mini-index of the chapter to make it easier to find those ideas. Otherwise, the execution of this book is near flawless. The organization of the book is simple: just four “building blocks” which are explained early on, then expanded within their own chapters. The beginning of each chapter makes clear what’s coming up and, of course, the follow through is right on target.
The book is organized into four building blocks:
- Clear Direction: Having a clear direction so everyone understands where they’re headed in no uncertain terms.
- The Right People: Matching the right people to every goal.
- Buy-In: Getting off to a great start with plenty of buy-in.
- Individual Initiative: Making sure everyone maintains their momentum by increasing individual initiative.
Each building block consists of three or four supporting chapters. Of course these four building blocks are elementary and unoriginal ideas, but Haughton manages to squeeze extra juice from each. The result, for me at least, is a new perspective on some older ideas, and a whole bunch of new tactics to take back to the office (insert insane cackle here). Here are a few of my favorite ideas…