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Monday, March 28, 2022


I recently read Radical Inclusion: What the Post-9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About Leadership by Martin Dempsey and Ori Brafman (2017). 


In this book, the warrior (former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Dempsey) and the academic (Dr. Brafman) dissect the impact of global interconnectedness on the social arrangements and behavior of 21st humanity. In particular, they focus on how leaders can best make sense of this social milieu and use it to good ends. 


My top takeaways:

·       Being part of a community is increasingly divorced from geographic proximity. It’s virtual now.

·       Wise leaders listen, amplify, and include.

·       Retention of power should take a back seat to a focus on efficacious outcomes.

·       MD/OB’s six key principles for effective leadership:

1. Belonging isn’t optional: give them memories.

2. Connect effort with meaning: make it matter.

3. Think about what you’re not thinking about: learn to imagine.

4. Prevent decision paralysis: develop a bias for action.

5. Collaborate at every level of the organization: co-create context.

6. Expand the circle: relinquish control to build and sustain power.


My favorite quotes:

“More specifically, the world is moving from debates about facts to battles of narratives.” (p. 22) “Facts are by definition grounded in logic. Narratives, however, are based on emotions.” (p. 22) “A narrative battle is won by drowning out the counter message.” (p. 23)


“Inclusion isn’t necessarily the opposite of exclusion. Real inclusion isn’t about letting just anyone in; it’s about understanding the pillars of participation, personalization, and purpose.” (p. 42)


“The most important responsibility of leaders—no matter how busy they are and how many other priorities demand their attention—is to make their people feel like they belong.” (p. 81)


“A bias for action is the recognition that, in our complex world, learning is active and iterative. We act, we assess, and we act again. A bias for action is the recognition that facts are vulnerable and that speed matters in the era of digital echoes.” (p. 108)


“Our challenge as leaders is to empower the entire organization to take part in understanding the problem the team is facing and to encourage individuals at all levels to suggest potential ways to reach our desired outcomes.” (p. 123)


This book would make an excellent team study. It could provide the basis for some very rich and deep conversations about moving an organization well and rightly into an ambiguous future.

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