Review: Effective Collaboration Doesn't Just Happen
If you want to increase your effectiveness as a peer collaborator within a network of entrepreneurial free agents or within a small business network, get a copy of Influence Without Authority and consume it cover to cover. Allan Cohen and David Bradford's 1989 publication is a timeless classic filled with insightful perspective that blends strategy and practice within an engaging case-based presentation.
Influence Without Authority was written just before the epidemic of outsourcing and downsizing in corporate organizations that has led to an explosion in non-hierarchical working relationships. So, while there is an explicit emphasis on collaboration within the corporate context and much content that is geared toward developing an effective collaborative relationship with your 'boss', don't think that this dates or undermines the importance of Cohen and Bradford's analysis and tactical recommendations. Exercising influence without the clout of formal authority is even more important in the collaborative, networking context familiar to free agents, small businesses and community activists.
We especially like the 'how to' perspective that illuminates strategic insight with case study examples. These cases run the gamut from scenario snippets to chapter-length detailed stories. Cohen and Bradford's case examples are effective in helping you to understand how to apply their influence method to practical work situations. We particularly like the sections which show you how to assess and plan your tactics for getting things done based on the metaphorical currencies of your allies and partners.
We also appreciate the lack of cynicism of this most practical book. Too many books and articles on power and management tactics today suggest a near ruthless disregard for subordinates and anyone 'non-alpha' to your position. The 'Just Do It' generation of managers may win a few battles, but never the war. Influence Without Authority, on the other hand, counsels us to approach even the 'tough cookies' with an open and positive attitude. With a proper attitude, Cohen and Bradford show us that some form of effective collaboration can be negotiated even with those we might otherwise see as obstacles or enemies. At its best, exercising effective influence among trusting, respectful peers can be exhilarating and lead to the true 'win-win' scenarios we all long for in our business relations.
If you find yourself feeling that your collaborative efforts have fallen short of your expectations and you wonder if or how things might have worked out better, we encourage you to get a copy of Influence Without Authority. We're sure you will find valuable lessons in this most practical book. And once you've read it, you will know why we are proud to have co-author Allan Cohen as a member of the Sohodojo Advisory Board.
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