As One: Individual Action, Collective Power.

Author:Marshall, Jeffrey
Position::Book review
 
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By Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley. Penguin Business, 352 pages. $40.

As One doesn't feel like an ordinary business book. It's printed on glossy stock and has loads of color photos sprinkled throughout, as well as chapter headers that spread over two pages. It looks much more like a textbook.

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In a way, it is. Authors Baghai and Quigley--the first a former partner at McKinsey & Co. and now leader of his own boutique consulting firm, the latter the CEO of Deloitte--aim the book squarely at showing readers how individual actions can be channeled into collective power. Not just in the corporate sphere, either: the models they analyze include landlords and tenants, community organizers, the military, producers and creative teams and architects and builders, among others.

As the authors point out in a preface, the book's ideas emerge from a Deloitte project that sought specifically to address the challenges of collaboration. The results, they say, "are applicable to businesses and business units, of all sizes and in all locales, from the C-suite to individual project teams ... Quite simply, we are hoping to help leaders turn individual action into collective power."

While acknowledging the importance of extensive literature about business leadership, the authors--aided by three research associates--posit that leadership is multi-dimensional and involves enhanced productivity, building shared identity and increasing sense of purpose. In that sense, leadership is critical to working "as one," but it must be enlightened leadership.

As the book details, philosophy and research about collective action is still evolving, and has been rooted in examining two basic structures: command-and-control and "everything else." Not surprisingly, the former is considered passe or, worse, a...

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