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by Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2003
Review by David M. Wolf, M.A. on Oct 6th 2004

Full Steam Ahead!

    At the center of this ambitious program on visioning in business is a decision to tell a story rather than narrate a program in logical sequence. The story is about Jim, an agency CEO who has died and left a legacy, an energized vision for his company, and his story is told by one of his employees.

    The employee is a woman. She's also a new employee who just happens to run into the boss early in the morning at his dawn-coffee hangout, and they connect. He becomes her mentor; she becomes his energized co-conspirator in building a new company vision.

    Necessarily, the point of view of this program speaks to and for women, especially women with children returning to the business world. The story is not only about how she helps build a business vision, but also, how visioning plays a role in her "at home" world of teenage children and their schooling. Women, in particular, should buy Full Steam Ahead! because it is aimed at that audience. Also, however, men who employ others, including women, can profit from listening to this work and integrating its lessons into their visioning.

    It's not a bad idea to bring business ideas to life in a story of two characters working toward an energizing vision. But, like any literary device, story-telling increases the demands on the writer to both educate and, not incidentally, to entertain. The former is easier than the latter.

    These compounded demands are greater than some business writers at first imagine. In Full Steam Ahead! sometimes, the artifice behind the story and the dialogue shows through. It can be distracting and it can even, once or twice on each disk, get a laugh.

    So cut these business types--Stoner, one suspects--some slack as you listen. Okay, it's not Tom Wolfe for dialogue and plotting--shut up! It's about working with your employees to build a credible, enduring vision that will transform lackluster effort into shining success. Focus on that, and your time will be well spent listening.


© 2004 David Wolf


David Wolf is the author of Philosophy That Works, a book about the practice of philosophy. His book page for orders (hardback & paperback) is ; readers can also see the first chapter there.

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