Your First 90 Days

Watkins, Michael: The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Harvard Business School Press, Sept. 2003 

This is one of the books I need to recommend to anyone who is about to get a new job. And even as this book is targeted to leaders I would recommend it to anyone starting a new job.

One of the main mistakes new joiners can make is to focus too much on learning the business than learning about the organization.

In my personal experiences it is the first 90 days that build the foundation for each personal successful development and therefore good preparation is key.

More on this book please click here. This is the author’s blog.

List of quotes from the book:

“You can do a lot to compensate for your vulnerabilities. Three basic tools are self-discipline, team building, and advice and counsel.” Page 27

“Acceleration Checklist:
1. What has made you successful so far in your career ? Can you succeed in your new position by relying solely on those strengths ? If not, what are the critical skills you need to develop ?
2. Are there aspects of your new job that are critical to success but that you prefer not to focus on ? Why is that the case ? How will you compensate for your potential blind spots ?
3. What do you need to do to ensure that you make the mental leap into the new position ? From whom might you seek advice and cousel on this ? What other activities might help you do this ?” Page 31 f.

“Effective learning calls for figuring out what you need to learn so you can focus your efforts. Devote some time to defining your learning agenda as early as possible, and return to it periodically to refine and supplement it. Efficient learning means identifying the best available sources of insight and then figuring out how to extract maximum insight with the least possible outlay of your precious time.” Page 37

What are the five essential questions to ask in a new organization ?
“1. What are the biggest challenges the organization is facing (or will face) in the near future ?
2. Why is the organization facing (or going to face) these challenges ?
3. What are most promising unexploited opportunities for growth ?
4. What would need to happen for the organization to exploit the potential of these opportunities ?
5. If you were me, what would you focus attention on ?” Page 46 f.

“How people answer can also tell you a lot about your new team its politics. Who answers directly and who is evasive or prone to going on tangents ? Who takes responsibility and who points fingers ? Who has a broad view of the business and who seems stuck in a silo ?” Page 47

When should your learning have the primary focus ?
“…learning should be a primary focus of your plan for your first 30 days on the job.”

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