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While in the midst of a job search, I've been looking for material (in addition to MT of course!) that would help me be productive/effective and found this book by Watkins (HBS).

The first 90 days is his attempt to model (called the Transition Acceleration Model) transitions from one role to another, so that a professional can "break even" and start making money for their employer before the 6-month expected time period (the new employee is expected to stop consuming value after 90 days, hence the name of the book).

I've only gotten to the 2nd chapter so it's too early to say how useful/applicable this is to the "real world", but it seems to be a lot of theory and academic research so far, and I'm a bit discouraged.

Has anyone else heard of/read this book? Just curious to see if it gets better later on.

I guess I'll keep reading either way (these books aren't cheap!), but I'm a bit disappointed so far.

akinsgre's picture

Hi Adam,

I haven't read the book yet (just some executive summaries).

There are some other posts, if you search the site, regarding that book. It's generally well regarded, but perhaps not always applicable.

Incidentally, I checked your LinkedIn profile and sent you a Personal Message because I think you might be interested in meeting a friend of mine (also in Hong Kong).

tomw's picture

I felt the book was very actionable, with a long line of things that you need to find out about the company and the kinds of things you must do.

The tricky thing about the book, which I think is also what makes it useful, is that it tells you what kind of things to find out and some ways to go about it, but that you must look at the company you work for to determine exactly what those things are. For example, in order to gain early wins, you have to first find out what the team there considers a "win."

I don't remember ever thinking it was too slow or not specific enough. I think I was taking notes within the first chapter.

Keep in mind that it is geared towards management roles specifically, not professionals in general. If you're not looking for a management role, it might not be very applicable.

RichRuh's picture

I thought it was a great book, and it's really helped in my first meetings with my new boss.

Ask me again in 85 days... :)

--Rich

madamos's picture

I am 4 weeks into a new management job and this is one of the books I read. It was very insightful and I did take away some good information. I especially liked how the book defined the 4 different types of transition situations you might find yourself in and the different actions you would take in each scenario.

MadAmos

pmoriarty's picture

Watkins book isn't a how-to in the MT sense where you get a set of step-by-step actions to take. Rather, it outlines an approach and strategy to follow when assuming a new leadership role. It's more of a framework.

That said, I found the book to be very useful.

eagerApprentice's picture

Hey guys, great feedback, thanks! Looks like not only do I have something to look forward to in reading this book, I've got to restart it from the beginning (which I have)!

I'm glad to see that you've all heard of the book and found it useful, that's a big endorsement.

May I ask which section/moral of the book was the most applicable/important to you?

tomw's picture

[quote="eagerApprentice"]Hey guys, great feedback, thanks! Looks like not only do I have something to look forward to in reading this book, I've got to restart it from the beginning (which I have)!

I'm glad to see that you've all heard of the book and found it useful, that's a big endorsement.

May I ask which section/moral of the book was the most applicable/important to you?[/quote]

I think for me, the major point was to analyze before you act. Make sure that you know as much about the company, its culture, its methods, its expectations as you can before you make any strategic decisions. The book is LOADED with ways to help you do that.

colleen's picture

This book helped me a lot, in fact, I happen to be re-reading it now.

I am using it actively to create a learning plan. My company has an excellent online course that mirrors the book but is called [i]Leadership Transitions[/i]. This is one of the classes in the Harvard Business School Publications online series (Michael Watkins is a HBS professor). A lot of companies, including mine, subscribe to these courses and they are awesome.

I like virtually all aspects of this book but I have found the section on developing a learning plan to be the most useful.

michael_watkins's picture

Thanks very much for your kind words about my work. I'm actually now a Professor of General Management at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. See [url]http://www.imd.ch/about/facultystaff/watkins.cfm[/url]

rthibode's picture

Dr. Watkins, good to see you here. Your book "The First 90 Days" has received nothing but accolades on these boards.

I wonder if your book "The First 90 Days in Government" would be suitable for a Canadian readership?

Thanks

michael_watkins's picture

The First 90 Days in Government was written for career executives, not political appointees. While the examples are out of US federal and state government, the basic situations will, I think, still very much resonate for career executives operating in parliamentary systems.

rthibode's picture

Just what I needed. Thanks for the prompt reply!

T.
(who is in no danger of becoming a political appointee ;-)

juliahhavener's picture

I have to put words to my impressed state - we've had a couple of instances now where the author/creator of items we have discussed here have turned up on the forums. I am absolutely impressed by those who take the time to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Watkins, for taking the time to find our forums and participate with those of us who have read and enjoyed your book. It's a frequently-recommended title around here!

WillDuke's picture

I agree Julia. Since I own the company I work in, I haven't seen a need for this particular book. But when Michael showed up and participated it encouraged me to get the book and look into it.

That being said, the positive buzz among regular board posters means even more. I guess this is more icing. :)

eagerApprentice's picture

Wow, I feel a bit humbled, first in that I criticized a book that many more experienced managers found to be quite valuable, and second because the [i]author[/i] of the book (who I am somewhat dwarfed by in knowledge and experience!) was kind enough to post a few comments! Ugh.. not a good thread for Adam. :)

[quote]I think for me, the major point was to analyze before you act. Make sure that you know as much about the company, its culture, its methods, its expectations as you can before you make any strategic decisions. The book is LOADED with ways to help you do that.[/quote]

I have found this to be true - a fact that I appreciated because I tend to appreciate real-world stories about a bit more - maybe just because they are easier to remember and the situation/lesson seems more real.

That said, I still am having a bit more trouble getting a lot of practical value out of the book. I think this may be for several reasons, starting with the fact that I've spent most of my professional career not as a transitioning manager but as a programmer and/or consultant.

Perhaps one reason this doesn't seem too applicable is because I can't fully relate to the situations and issues that are important and arise...?

I've read the book once now and am taking some time to go back and make notes, especially on the chapter mentioned above.

Glenn Ross's picture

On Sept 1, I was promoted from Director to VP of CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) and my responsibilities were enlarged to bring our data entry department into my department.

About the same time I discovered [b]The First 90 Days[/b]. I read the book, then created a one-page plan with the following components:
Things I need to learn
Strategy
8 "Early Wins"
Identified what I need to "negotiate for success"
Identified who I need to create coalitions with

My 90 days expires on Dec 15. Of the 8 early wins, I'm on course for all of them.

I am considering purchasing more copies of this book and giving it as gifts to those promoted into middle management.

This book helped me to develop a laser-like focus on my priorities and the relationships I need to build and maintain.

Regards,

Glenn

eagerApprentice's picture

I'm going through this book for the third time after reading all of your posts... trying to apply it. :)

This final time is not really reading, but taking an organization and developing the learning plans and other models that are spoken about in the book.

When applying the book to a real-life, company situation, I see some value in developing a plan based on the type of company (in the STARS model), and I found the Learning Plan Template interesting too.

In some ways, I think I have a tendency to be like the guy who comes in and wants to get straight to work - this book is good for me in that way because it shows me how to ask the right questions, speak to the right people, and develop the right sort of actionable insights to be effective.

I am trying to be more positive about this book, as I guess you can tell. I will be testing it and myself in the future. :)

One thing that I liked was the emphasis the author put on one-on-ones - it sounded eerily similar to MT for a moment there~

jhack's picture

Glenn,

How did it turn out?

John