Summary of The First 90 Days

Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter

By Michael D. Watkins
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What is The First 90 Days about?

The book 'The First 90 Days' by Michael D. Watkins provides a comprehensive guide for professionals transitioning into new roles or organizations. It offers practical strategies, tools, and frameworks to help leaders succeed in their first 90 days. With a focus on effective leadership, the book explores topics such as building relationships, diagnosing organizational culture, securing early wins, and accelerating learning. It is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to make a successful career transition and achieve long-term success in their new role.

Michael D. Watkins is an American author, consultant, and professor specializing in leadership and career transitions. He is widely recognized for his best-selling book "The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter." Watkins is a professor at the Harvard Business School and the founder of Genesis Advisers, a leadership development consultancy. He has also written several other books and articles on leadership, team dynamics, and organizational change. Watkins' expertise lies in helping executives and leaders navigate critical career transitions effectively.

8 Key Ideas of The First 90 Days

Julia Gould, a successful marketing professional, was promoted to lead a major new product development project. However, she failed in her new role because she did not adapt to the challenges of leading a cross-functional team without direct authority. Julia's micromanagement and focus on her area of expertise alienated her team members and ultimately led to her removal from the position.

The mistake Julia made was assuming that she could continue doing what she did in her previous job, only more so. This kind of thinking is destructive because it can appear to work for a while, but eventually leads to failure. To avoid this, it is important to prepare oneself for a new role by embracing the necessary changes in perspective.

There are two types of transitions that leaders commonly experience: promotions and onboarding into new companies. Each type presents its own set of challenges that must be overcome.

When getting promoted, leaders need to balance breadth and depth by gaining a high-level perspective while still being able to drill down into the details. They also need to rethink what they delegate as the complexity and ambiguity of their responsibilities increase. Additionally, leaders must learn how to influence differently as they move up in the organization hierarchy. Decision-making becomes more political and less about authority.

Communication becomes more formal as leaders move up in their careers. They need to establish new channels for staying connected with what is happening at all levels of the organization and for communicating their strategic intent and vision.

Leaders who are promoted also need to exhibit the right presence by understanding what leadership presence means at their new level in the hierarchy and how they can make it their own.

Onboarding into a new company presents different challenges. Leaders must orient themselves to the business by learning about the company as a whole, not just their specific area of responsibility. They also need to develop relationships with key stakeholders both vertically and laterally within the organization.

Aligning expectations is crucial when joining a new company as assumptions made during the recruiting process may not be accurate once in the job. Leaders must have explicit conversations with their boss and other key stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Cultural adaptation is another challenge when joining a new company. Leaders need to understand the overall culture of the organization as well as any subcultures that may exist within different units. This understanding will help them strike the right balance between adapting to the new organization and working to alter it.

To prepare oneself for a new role, it is important to establish a clear breakpoint between the old job and the new one. Mentally letting go of the past and embracing the new role is essential for success.

Assessing one's vulnerabilities is also crucial. Leaders should identify their problem preferences and determine if there are any potential blind spots or areas where they may be less eager to solve problems. Compensating for these vulnerabilities through self-discipline, team building, and seeking advice and counsel from others is important.

Leaders must also be aware of their strengths, as these can sometimes become weaknesses in a new role. Being open to learning and relearning how to learn is essential when facing a steep learning curve in a new position.

Reworking one's network by seeking out political counselors and personal advisers who can provide guidance in navigating organizational politics and maintaining perspective is important for success.

Finally, leaders should watch out for people who may want to hold them back, such as former bosses or colleagues who may resist change. Clear expectations should be negotiated early on to avoid misunderstandings or resistance.

Overall, preparing oneself for a new role requires self-awareness, adaptability, and a willingness to learn and grow. It involves embracing change, building relationships, aligning expectations, adapting to culture, compensating for vulnerabilities, leveraging strengths appropriately, relearning how to learn, reworking networks, and being mindful of potential obstacles. By following these principles for preparation, leaders can increase their chances of success in their new roles.

The First 90 Days Summary: Common Questions

Farid AsadiBy Farid Asadi

Diving into a new role, with its myriad challenges and potential pitfalls, can be daunting. 'The First 90 Days' by Michael D. Watkins is the toolkit you didn't know you needed, illuminating the path forward during crucial transitions. It doesn't just lay out the challenges; it provides the blueprint for turning them into opportunities.

Watkins' depth of understanding of leadership transitions shines through each page. His emphasis on the significance of the initial phase in any new role, paired with the importance of momentum and early wins, offers readers a structured approach to change. While there's a richness of content, some might feel a tad overwhelmed by its case-study-heavy nature. But these real-world examples serve as robust pillars, holding up the principles Watkins presents.

Among the multitude of leadership and management guides, 'The First 90 Days' stands tall, indispensable for those venturing into new professional terrains. Having journeyed through its pages, I'd comfortably rate it a robust 4.8 out of 5. It's more than just a book; it's a mentor for those crucial early days in a new role.

The main subject of 'The First 90 Days' is successfully transitioning into a new role or position within an organization. It provides a comprehensive guide to help individuals navigate through their initial three months in a new job, offering strategies, insights, and practical advice to ensure a smooth and impactful transition.

Mohammad YektaBy Mohammad Yekta
Anyone who is about to start a new job or take on a new role within their organization should read 'The First 90 Days'. It is particularly valuable for executives, managers, and professionals who want to make a strong first impression, quickly gain credibility, and accelerate their learning curve to drive positive results in their new position.

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael D. Watkins is a standout book in the Management & Leadership field. For a concise summary and key takeaways, sign up for free on our platform. You'll be able to access insights from this book and summaries of other noteworthy books.

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