Book review: Do Nothing!

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Are you overwhelmed by the tasks at hand? Are you afraid of leaving your project and going away? Are you a frequent traveler? Are there ever pressing issues, emails, or a crisis that you need to resolve when you return to your project?
Keith Murnighan is the author of Do Nothing! Do Nothing! : How to Stop Overmanaging, and Become a Great leader believes that we must stop. He writes, “Conscientious, dedicated leaders do way too many things – way too many,” What if you did nothing and it worked? Instead, he advocates for facilitating and orchestrating others’ work. He says, “You will be more effective as a leader if you let others do the work.” “In other words, stop working. Start leading.”
The leadership law
Murnighan’s leadership law states that “Think about the reaction you want first, then consider the actions you can take in order to maximize the chance that those reactions actually happen.” This means that you should not think about what your actions are, but rather focus on the reactions that you want.

Leaders don’t get the results that they want because they have four problems that prevent them from putting the leadership law into practice. These are:
An absence of empathy
Focus on their actions
The belief that others understand them fully.

Murnighan also stated that we are not able to understand how our behavior affects others.
You can’t fix leadership problems if you don’t have the will to
Murnighan offers several solutions to common problems that leaders face. What can you do if you’re having trouble getting people to follow your lead on your project?
Put them first: Focus on them.
Ask them if they don’t already know!
Actively listen: Use active listening techniques to really hear what they’re saying.
Walk the floor: Get closer to your team’s activities and be approachable.

Above all, think about the reactions you want and how you can shape your behavior to achieve them.
Teamwork is key
Murnighan states that teams perform best when they feel safe and listened to. So, try to understand the perspectives of your project team. Encourage everyone to speak up, even if they don’t believe in democracy.
He suggests that you should scrap performance goals. They become obsolete as soon as they are met and are replaced by another goal set by management. Instead, set learning goals. You should aim to learn more and improve. This approach could be used to improve estimating and make better use of post-project review data. I’m not sure how it fits with project methodology overall. Murnighan states that sharing your mistakes publicly makes it easier for others to admit their own mistakes.
Although there were too many basketball references throughout the book, there are plenty of interesting stories and anecdotes about winning teams and shooting for goals. Chapter 9 examines the profiles of seven leaders, including one that is related to basketball. Although it is fascinating to have stories to illustrate the key points of the book, this chapter feels a little tacked-on to increase the word count. It doesn’t integrate well.
Project managers will have to accept the idea of doing less of what they do and more of what they lead in the years ahead. Project management is becoming more about project leadership.
Do Nothing, Buy Nothing!