Into the Storm, by Dr. Dennis N.T. Perkins and Jillian B. Murphy (Hardcover, 2012)|
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Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
I really enjoyed Perkins' and Murphy's previous book, "Leading At the Edge." So, I looked
forward to reading "Into the Storm." This book did not disappoint!
As with their previous work, I'm very impressed with this book and highly
recommend it to anyone in a management or leadership role. What sometimes
happens in a sequel or series is authors will just "repurpose" the earlier
book with a few editorial changes and a different central story. But that's
not what these authors did. This isn't a re-warmed version of "Leading At
the Edge." Yes, you can identify similarity of style. But these are two
distinctly different books. Even the emphasis is different. They complement
each other, rather than duplicate.
One thing that didn't change is the integrity of the authors. The title
and subtitle accurately reflect the content of this book. Why is this worth
commenting on? In today's nonfiction book market, the title and subtitle
tend to poorly match the actual content of the book. Several books that I've
recently read had subtitles written by a person who apparently had not read
This one was a nail-biter. The vivid detail and fast-paced writing style
made me feel as if I were watching this story in real-time via a webcam.
This wasn't a management lesson book that used anecdotes of some event to
illustrate a point the authors were making. It was an engaging, hard to put
down account of how real people handled real events during a situation that
would make for a good thriller in book or movie form.
One way to write a book like this is to tell the story and then go into
the lessons learned. But that's anticlimactic and also makes it difficult
for the reader to correlate things because they are so disjointed in time
relative to the narrative. However, pointing out the lessons while also
keeping the story moving forward is a hard task to pull off. The authors
took the second approach and did it quite well.
It also helps that the story is "bookended" by certain material. In front
of the story itself, we have an explanatory, groundwork-laying preface.
That's followed by "The Role of the Leader." After the story, which runs 154
pages, is Part Two, "Critical Strategies for Teamwork at the Edge" (85
pages). Then "A Note to the Skipper" (4 pages).
In both books, it seems Dr. Perkins is (apparently) the lead author. It's
his personal commentary you read in various places. For example, the short
piece on "The Role of the Leader" is in the first person. Dr. Perkins graduated from the US Naval Academy, which is no small feat.
Actually, just getting in there is quite an accomplishment. As a US Marine, he
served as a company commander in Vietnam. There, he learned many lessons in
leadership. And he is quick to point out he learned some of these by screwing
up. That kind of humility and honesty is characteristic of a good leader, and
his expressing it added to the confidence I felt as a reader listening to what
he had to say.
I'm always a little leery when someone writes a "lessons learned" book or
article based on a famous event. Too many times, authors of such pieces draw on
the popularized account rather than the historical account. But Dr. Perkins
actually sailed in a race with the crew of the Midnight Rambler. He also
personally met and interviewed many of the people involved in the Hobart Race.
In addition, the book has an extensive bibliography.
This book's lessons in teamwork aren't just theory that some academic
dreamed up while drinking coffee and eating bagels in front of his computer.
They come from intense personal experience both on the battlefields of
Vietnam and from the fight for survival in an ocean race.
Today, many companies, especially small ones disadvantaged and damaged by
bad government policies, are fighting for survival. Into the Storm may
provide the teamwork insight those companies need. Even very small companies
with very small internal teams have a network of external teams including
vendors and often even customers. Applying these lessons can mean the
difference between disaster and winning the race.