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Monday, August 27, 2012


Talk, Inc. by Boris Groysberg & Michael Slind - Book review

Talk, Inc.

How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power their Organizations

By: Boris Groysberg, Michael Slind

Published: June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN-10: 142217333X
ISBN-13: 978-1422173336
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press

"Instead of handing down commands or imposing formal controls, many leaders today are interacting with their workforce in ways that call to mind an ordinary conversation between two people", write professor of business administration in the Organizational Behavior unit at the Harvard Business School, Boris Groysberg; and award winning writer, editor, and communication consultant Michael Slind, in their insightful and organizational reinventing book Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power their Organizations. The authors describe how a new fountain of organizational power has arisen in the form of organizational conversations that recaptures the strengths and qualities of smaller companies.

Boris Groysberg (photo left) and Michael Slind recognize that previous command and control model of communication is no longer effective, and is even counterproductive for the company. That obsolete model relied on orders moving downward through the organizational hierarchical structure. The authors propose an alternative form of communication, in the form of person to person conversation, that is so crucial to the nimble and cohesive energy of the small company.

The authors provide the tools and techniques for large companies to incorporate the conversational model into their entire organization. With this more flexible and dynamic communication becoming part of even the largest companies, the energy and engagement of small firms can be harnessed effectively for a leap in performance and productivity.

Michael Slind (photo left) and Boris Groysberg understand the power of conversation between people to motivate and engage one another. The authors point out that conversation is more than just talk, but also includes careful listening to social media. One way messaging simply doesn't work in a social media, and in today's conversation based world. The microcosm of the company reflects that conversational interaction and exchange of ideas that flow in many different directions.

Through their in depth conversations with 150 business leaders, at companies of all sizes and types, resulted in the insight that four common elements of organization based conversation being recognized. Those trust building and enhancing elements are as follows:

* Intimacy: Conversation between two people that reduces distance from leaders
* Interactivity: Conversation is a two way street where ideas are shared
* Inclusion: Empowered employers share in telling the company story
* Intentionality: Conversation that builds on and aligns with the company strategy

For me, the power of the book is how Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind combine the theory and principles of organizational conversation, with the practical techniques for nurturing and developing the concept within any company. The authors present a very compelling argument in support of organizational conversation as essential for companies seeking more engaged and empowered employees.

The proven methods of the more dynamic and versatile small company are transferred to even the largest firms through open, two way conversation between people. This open and straight talking interaction that flows in both directions replaces the outmoded and no longer effective one way command and control system. The authors bolster their case with extensive research with business leaders who have discovered the transformational and culture changing elements of conversation.

I highly recommend the culture changing and excellence creating book
Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power their Organizations by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind, to any business leaders searching for a proven business model that builds a more intimate and nimble organization, with more engaged employees, and vastly enhanced levels of performance. This book shows business leaders how to apply the strengths and advantages of small companies, through the power of organizational conversation, to any size of firm.

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