The First 90 Days

Author: Michael D. Watkins

Genre: Self-help book

Rated by Harvard Business School as ‘the best 100 business books of all time’, The First 90 Days helps people who have moved to a new role (most managers change roles in 2.5-4 years) in “transition acceleration” and “failure prevention”. Typical breakeven point for a mid-level manager, where the net contribution more than balances the net cost of on-boarding, is 6.2 months.

Transition failures happen when new leaders either misunderstand the essential demands of the situation or lack the skill and flexibility to adapt to them. The over-riding goal in a transition is to build momentum by creating virtuous cycles that build credibility and avoid getting caught in the vicious cycles that damage credibility.

As a vicious cycle takes hold, the organisation’s immune system gets activated and the new leader is attacked by clumps of ‘killer cells’, encapsulated, and finally expelled. [More than 40 – 50% of senior outside hires fail to achieve desired results (difficulty in assimilating into a new culture, unknown credibility, existing people do not adjust).