A previous colleague and friend recommended the book HOW to me and put me in touch with a contact at LRN. The gentleman was kind enough to meet with me, and we had an inspiring conversation and he also provided me with a personal signed copy.

The author, Dov Seidman, opens the book with a discussion of the infamous wave that is so often done in various stadiums. It discusses what is required for a successful wave and compares the requirements to those of great leaders who focus on HOW.  He has so much insight into what it takes and shares about the action potentials and synapses of energy, and it really causes the reader to ponder what the requirements are for human behavior. He goes on to discuss the world getting flatter and what creates many things, including the hold habits of fortress capitalism to be obsolete. My interpretation was set early in reading, and the author had me convinced that the HOWS are equally and more important than the WHATS.              

He shares the 5 HOWS of culture:

1)    How we know

2)    How we behave

3)    How we relate

4)    How we recognize

5)    How we pursue

His book also provides a great useful visual of the various dimensions of culture and typical behaviors in the 5 HOWS against each. I know in the future, I will find myself referencing and sharing this with others.

The book caused me to reflect on previous companies I have worked with, and their cultures as well as level of transparency.  There was an attention-grabbing section about relationships, communication, connection and collaboration, RC³- how we fill the space between us, essentially the ties that bind us.

I found the rule based chapters to be of interest as well.  As an HR professional, I agree with his notion that HOW one does something really is more important than WHAT one does. He shares that by setting floors of behavior, rules also cause unintentionally set ceilings. He shared how rules respond to behavior and they don’t lead it. “Rules don’t lead human progress; they govern the human past.” This really made me think about rules vs. shared values and principles. I love the story about guardrails and the knowledge sharing about governing through culture.

Another topic that interested me was cognitive dissonance. Basically what occurs within one when he/she has to accommodate new ideas that happen to conflict with one’s already held beliefs.  It caused me again to reflect on past experiences and ponder this, as well as to have several conversations with various friends about their experiences at their workplaces. He went on to explain, “When distraction, dissonance and cynicism overflow the boundaries of the mind and manifest themselves in conduct they contaminate the spaces. That’s where friction comes from.”

As I read this book, I utilized the spare book pages at the end for personal mind maps, mapping words like trust, culture and leadership.  For all the leaders out there, this is a great book and it will help you consider what your leadership framework consists of and what is required if you strive to be a values-based self-governed culture. It will also make you consider if you have what it takes to create successful Waves.  I recommend that as you read the book, you keep a list of: key learning messages, personal reflections and ideas for your organization, as well as favorite quotes.

Book Title: How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything…in Business (and in Life), Author: Dov Seidman

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2 Responses to How vs. What

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  2. Katrina King says:

    Thanks, your overview was inspirational. “How” sounds like a great read. We are in the process of analyzing how we do things. I think I will have to pick this book up — I am looking forward to learning more about the leadership framework.

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