True Success: What It Means and How Organizations Can Achieve It by Arnold J. Judson is a practical book that focuses on how organizations can identify and address the complex facets that impact performance. Over the course of ten, information-packed chapters, Judson shares a step-by-step guide to establishing a “system for organizational navigation and guidance” — referred to here as “SONG” — in order to promote success.
True Success is based on two key points: first, that the oft-peddled method of increasing organizational success through leadership development is incorrect. Judson believes that the organization as an entity must be addressed separately from the individuals who operate within it. The second foundational point is that traditional criteria for success should be replaced with his own definition: “True success for any organization is its ability to set appropriate objectives and then to achieve them consistently over time.”
Judson shines in his deep knowledge of organizational success models and frequently bolsters his insights with evidence and examples; for instance, in Chapter 4, he follows an examination of the value of ethical objective setting with a case study of Harvard University “surreptitiously” buying property where it shouldn’t have in Boston city limits.
However, this material can also be overwhelming. While just under 200 pages, the book is seemingly packed with enough content for two or three books. The result is a dense read that features models within models. For example, Chapter 6, on the elements of SONG, contains 11 sub-elements, some of which (such as number 7 on performance measurement) contain their own equally dense sub-sub-elements. Judson makes every word count with his precise use of language, but the book will take time and effort to absorb.
The bottom line: Those looking for a light, breezy read should look elsewhere. For the rest, True Success offers a worthwhile, intensive read written by a management advisor who understands the practical steps needed to effect organizational change.
Also available as an ebook.