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A book review
Regular visitors to our site will know that Angela Boothroyd is chief book review Bird, and that others of us add our own review on something that’s particularly caught our eye – this is one such!
“the chocolate conversation” is, I believe, spot on for what’s needed by leaders of business of all sizes: it turns out to be the kind of business book that every business person who intends to grow beyond solopreneur status and make a positive impact should read and apply learnings from.
Reading the book I got the idea that Rose Fass, the author, probably talks exactly the same way she writes: With humour, intelligence and no wasted unnecessarily long words or corporate speak being trotted out to “impress”. I’ve since seen a short YouTube book trailer video and she does!
Rose has an impressive corporate background, rising during her eighteen years with the company to Chief Transformation Officer at Xerox Corporation, then being recruited by Gartner to create, staff and lead a centre for transformation before, finally, in 2001, leaving to set up her own boutique consultancy, fassforward.
I don’t want to give too much away here as you may well get the impression that you’ve ‘got it’ and there’s no need to read the book… and that would be doing a disservice to you. But to whet your appetite, this whole chocolate conversation concept came out of a Death by Chocolate: Bring-Your-Own-Chocolate party that Rose went to a few years after she graduated from college, fully convinced that her concoction would be the star turn… Not only were there many worthy contenders, but it soon became obvious that each person’s chocolate ideal was different and a love of chocolate in principle was the only thing this bunch had in common.
Fass, sorry, fast forward several years and we see how Rose connects the dots and aligns the similarities between the conversations happening at that party and the “chocolate coversations” taking place in her workplace and realises that similar conversations are going on all over the place: too often we think we’re having the same conversation with someone – only to find out that people walk away with a very different perspective of what was said.
It might be good to read that last sentence again…
This is a comparatively short book yet I find it almost impossible to pick out my one, two or three top take aways, or AHA! moments from it because there are many that, even when not new to me, make me more aware of what I’ve seen or participated in, but I’ll have a go!
We’re introduced to worldviews, standards and concerns – the three ingredients of chocolate conversations, and how, as a leader, it’s your job to effectively address all three areas. And we see how just copying a successful company’s blueprint (or ‘playbook’ as Rose describes it) isn’t necessarily the answer as doing so can turn out disastrously for yours…
I found this chapter fascinating. Again, although Rose is using her background of corporate America to illustrate how M & As are breeding grounds for chocolate conversations, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s seen the self same meltdowns happen not only with global takeovers where-ever, but also between SMEs and probably faster!
Relevance adds an extra dimension to the areas of growth, scale and productivity that are typically top of the list of leaders’ minds. It’s one, according to the author, that you miss at your peril! – and there’s a neat 7-question exercise to help you how to find yours.
We’re getting into the core of Rose’s assertion that “Leadership Happens in the Conversation” and it’s very difficult to disagree with not just her reasoning but her examples from all walks of life over different time periods that demonstrate we should listen to her!
And there’s loads more…
So many of my roles have been focused on understanding people (whatever the target audience – employees, customers, suppliers, partners, and so on), and communicating effectively with them, often in the midst of change, has always been of prime importance. The way Fass has addressed the three challenges of achieving effective leadership, change and communications in this book is a complete delight.
I found that “the chocolate conversation” is both deliciously simple to get your head round and packs a real wow! punch once you realise you or others are having one, because you can immediately take steps to turn the situation around.
In my opinion the author has taken what she has learned over many years and applied first as an employee in a leadership/ change role and, more recently, in her own boutique consultancy, and written a book to guide leaders how to implement positive change and achieve genuine buy-in from employees and customers alike for their own organisations. It’s hugely informative and useful whilst being an easy and enjoyable read. Oh, and if you get the book, watch out for the sketchnotes at the end – they’re priceless!