Know What You Don't Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen

Michael A. Roberto  
Total pages
January 2009
Related Titles

Product detail

Product Price CHF Available  
Know What You Don't Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen
38.50 not defined


Problems remain hidden in organizations for a number of reasons, including fear, organizational complexity, gatekeepers who insulate leaders from problems that are coming up, and finally, an overemphasis on formal analysis in place of intuition and observation. This book lays out the key skills and capabilities required to ensure that problems do not remain hidden in your organization. It explains how leaders can become effective problem finders, unearthing problems before they destroy an organization. The book explains how leaders can become an anthropologist, going out and observe how employees, customers, and suppliers actually behave. It then goes on to present how they can circumvent the gatekeepers, so they can go directly to the source to see and hear the raw data; hunt for patterns, including refining your individual and collective pattern recognition capability; 'connect the dots' among issues that may initially seem unrelated, but in fact, have a great deal in common; give front-line employees training in a communication technique; encourage useful mistakes, including create a 'Red Pencil Award'; and watch the game film, where leaders reflect systematically on their own organization's conduct and performance, as well as on the behavior and performance of competitors.


Great leaders don't just problem solve, they discover problems before they mushroom into large-scale failures.


  • Connect the dots: Your organization is trying to tell you something. What is it?
  • Master and utilize the key elements of healthy organizations, from circumventing the gatekeepers to watching the game film.
  • Written by the successful author of Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes For an Answer.
  • Table of Contents

    Acknowledgments    xii

    About the Author    xv

    Preface   xvi

    Chapter 1 From Problem-Solving to Problem-Finding   1

    Chapter 2 Circumvent the Gatekeepers   27

    Chapter 3 Become an Ethnographer    53

    Chapter 4 Hunt for Patterns    73

    Chapter 5 Connect the Dots    95

    Chapter 6 Encourage Useful Failures   119

    Chapter 7 Teach How to Talk and Listen   139

    Chapter 8 Watch the Game Film   161

    Chapter 9 The Mindset of a Problem-Finder    185

    Index    195


    Michael A. Roberto is the Trustee Professor of Management at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, after six years as a faculty member at Harvard Business School. His research, teaching, and consulting focus on strategic decision-making processes and senior management teams. He is the author of Why Great Leaders Don’t Take Yes for an Answer (Wharton School Publishing, 2005).