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Book Review of: Buy In

Saving Your Good Idea From Getting Shot Down

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Review of Buy In, by Author (Hardcover, 2010)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.

Superbly done.

If you are in any kind of organization (family, Fortune 500 company, baseball league, City Council, etc.) and wish people would engage in honest discussion instead of shooting down your suggestions, this book is for you. Once you've read it, you never again need to see your ideas minimized, bullied, mischaracterized, or delayed indefinitely. In fact, you'll know how to turn potentially fatal attacks to your advantage.

This book is a "must read" for anyone volunteering for anything. Having served on several nonprofit boards, corporate task forces, and other venues in which getting the group to move forward is hugely challenging, I wish I'd had this book long ago. In my various roles, I had developed some of the same strategies and tactics the authors present. Most of us do this, I think. One problem, of course, is we don't develop the full suite. Another problem is knowing what to do and being able to do it while under attack are not the same thing (how often have you later thought, "I wish I had said....").

I've observed that the people who tend to get their ideas accepted also tend treat others with respect. But this is very hard to do when you are presenting your idea and constantly being interrupted by a loud-mouthed idiot whose statements are flatulent at best.

Many other challenges also arise. The key is preparation. You can "pick up pointers" over many years by watching others succeed or fail and then analyzing what happened. Or, you can prepare by using this book.

The scope of this book is how to handle objections to your plan or idea. The authors stick to that, and never venture outside their area of expertise. The book doesn't tell you how to properly prepare an argument, conduct research, vet information sources, prepare a financial analysis, or conduct a feasibility study. They are good things to do, but people who do all of these things, and more, can find their plans and ideas shot down anyhow. That's where this book comes in.

There are two kinds of objections: Reasonable and unreasonable. It's this latter category that is so tough to handle. People with an agenda other than honest discussion put forth unreasonable objections, with the intent of shutting down your program. This happens so often and causes so much needless waste and frustration, that a book on how to handle it fills a real need. This is that book.

The authors group these objections into four main strategies:

  1. Death by delay.
  2. Confusion.
  3. Fear mongering.
  4. Character assassination.

After thinking about this categorization and trying to find flaws in the authors' approach, I have to say I think they have nailed it. Every kind of obstructionist attack is a variation on one of these four themes.

This book consists of eight chapters in two parts.

  1. In Part One, the authors provide a theoretical case history to illustrate how to handle obstructionist attacks.
  2. In Part Two, the authors describe the method for handling obstructionist attacks.

The theoretical case takes place in the theoretical town of Centerville, with the reader as a key character in the story. I found this both engaging and educational. And I could relate to many of the example situations.

In discussing the method, the authors explain those four strategies in Chapter 5. Then in Chapter 6, they explain why you should actually welcome these attacks, and how to turn them to your advantage. Chapter 7 covers twenty four variations on these four themes and provides a response to each. The authors don't expect the reader to remember all twenty four, though doing so may be advantageous. Seeing these variations on the four themes helps the reader more thoroughly understand and recognize when one of the four themes is being used and how to counter it.

Chapter 8 provides four steps for saving a good idea. The appendix provides eight steps for facilitating change in a large-scale environment.

This book includes no political proselytizing or factual errors, making it rare among today's nonfiction titles. There was no bibliography, but in this case one wasn't needed. The writing style shows a high degree of craft; the authors are outstanding writers.

I'm very happy with this book, and highly recommend it.




About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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