Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Power Listening

Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All.  Bernard T. Ferrari. Portfolio/Penguin, 2012.

I highly recommend Power Listening by Bernard T. Ferrari for PMs (and managers, executives, BAs, spouses, parents, children, …).  This book doesn’t offer platitudes about why listening is important;  in fact, Ferrari, who is obviously experienced with coaching on this subject, offers specific direction on, not just the why but, the how of listening.
The first few chapters of Power Listening are devoted to documenting archetypes of listening failures:  Opinionator, Grouch, Preambler, Perseverator, Answer Man, and Pretender.  These are described sufficiently well so that you can recognize them when you encounter them in others but, more importantly, when you find yourself, as we all do at various times, exhibiting these characteristics.  These opening chapters help us recognize poor listening archetypes, understand why each of these deficiencies prevents us from reaching our potential as listeners, and provide techniques for breaking bad habits associated with poor listening.

The meat of the book follows, though.  Here Ferrari provides the structure to swing from poor listening to Power Listening, by providing a schema for collecting and organizing (mandate, plan, team, execution and personal) information.  The goal of power listening (the technique) is to make better business decisions and this section helps us to better know when we are (still) missing critical information and what questions to ask to fill the gaps.  Knowing what questions to ask is beneficial;  knowing what information is missing is priceless.
The final section of Ferrari’s book explains how the organizational leader’s listening skills set the tone for the organization and that the leader can improve the organization by modeling Power Listening skills.

Communications is the most important skill in project management.  Therefore, anything we can do to improve communication skills – for ourselves, our project teams and our stakeholders – should be explored and practiced.  This book should be in your library;  these skills should be in your toolset.
© 2013 Chuck Morton.  All Rights Reserved.

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