Monday, June 02, 2008

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

I heard of Now, Discover Your Strengths from my wife, who read it for one of her MBA classes. I thought the conceit -- that a focus on enduring strengths is more important than eliminating weaknesses -- was interesting and seemed to match up against my experiences in various workplace roles.

So even though I knew the book was wrapped around some product that the authors were pitching, I gave it a try.

While I've not read a lot of the contemporary titles about effectively managing personnel, I felt from the start that what the authors were proposing was bold, different, and against the grain.

Their model consists of the following core arguments culled from Gallup data:

- All people have areas of talent.
- The greatest room for growth for people is in an area of strength.

From this premise, the authors argue that it makes more sense for individuals to build up their strengths and manage around their weaknesses than it does to focus on remedying shortcomings. Likewise, organizations are advised to match employees to the right roles and build up strengths rather than trying to plug skill gaps. Organizations, the authors argue, also need to devise ways -- beyond promotion -- to help employees grow in their careers and continue to utilize their strengths.

Overall, I finished the book interested in learning more about strengths-based approaches to management.

One postscript. Though I was intrigued enough by the premise of the strength product the authors were promoting to want to take a look, I was unable to take the online assessment because I was reading a used copy of the book and my book id key had already been used (by my wife). This was not entirely surprising. What was, though, was that there was no way to take the test save buying another book and using a new key. No one time fee for readers like me who've read the book second-hand. I don't know, but it seems like a narrow marketing strategy for their product. What if I'm a manager and want all my employees to take the test but not read the book?


  1. You sound like one o' them copyfighters. Why do you hate America?

  2. Which America? I love the America that saw Barack Obama secure the Democratic Party nomination and the America where Lawrence Lessig resides.