Critical Doer Book Review: “Sticking Points”

A Critical Doer is willing to lead and understands following

 In author Haydn Shaw’s Sticking Points:  How To Get 4 Generations Working Together In The 12 Places They Come Apart, Shaw offers a fresh look at, and more importantly a fresh solution to the age old problem of intergenerational communication and how it influences the effectiveness and continuity of an organization.

Shaw’s model of acknowledge…appreciate…flex…leverage…resolve…presents an easy to understand framework that leaders of companies, as well as leaders of families, can use to close the gap between generations.  In fact, the model is consistent with what Chip and Dan Heath called “shrinking the problem” in their book Switch:  How To Change Things When Change Is Hard.  The sequential approach Shaw lays out gives us a progressive method of incremental improvement that won’t leave the reader feeling defeated as other methods wouldn’t make the problem small enough to be manageable.

Another positive aspect of the book is that it focuses on the commonalities of the generations as much as the differences.  Shaw does a fantastic job keeping stylistic differences in context with the things we have in common regardless of generation.  Anyone who follows Shaw’s model with an open mind can cut through the superficial and get to the issues of fulfillment that bind us all together as humans.

One point that remains unclear to the reader however, is in answering perhaps the toughest question of all…who goes first?  Whether or not it’s by design, the preponderance of the anecdotes involve the older generation coming around to the younger generation.  In the practical world, making the assumption that the older generation accommodates the younger could have perils.  Failing to understand the risk landscape in bridging generations could undermine organizational effectiveness.

The space between generations represents risk.  In a tight labor market, the older generation could feel compelled to make accommodations to attract and retain top talent.  Without top talent, organizations suffer.  Conversely, when labor is plentiful, the older generation could feel less compelled to make accommodations, and expectations to that end could jeopardize employment.  Without a job, you suffer.

Overall, I’d recommend Sticking Points to anyone who leads an organization where multiple generations work together and the organization has an expectation of longevity.  Shaw’s model is easy to understand and the step by step approach makes implementation manageable.  I’d encourage readers to get past the murkiness of who goes first and accept that we are all accountable for bridging the generational gap.  Leaders are accountable to lead, followers are equally accountable to be practical.  The faster we look past the superficial and realize we can all learn from each other regardless of generation, we come closer to achieving organizational effectiveness and individual fulfillment.


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Updated: January 22, 2015 — 3:01 am