Book Reviews

Review of Kaufman and Srica’s Empower Us!: From Crisis to Strategic Harmony

By: Jean AbiNader

Change Management Strategist 

January 13, 2021

Perhaps we’re just tired of hearing that the world is out of control – the impact of the pandemic, a dislocated American democracy, and the global economy and environment have eroded our confidence and trust in a safe, secure future. While millions lose their livelihoods, stock equities are soaring. Technology has given us the means to be better informed, yet many rely on sources based in alternative realities that defy reasoning. Claims and counterclaims about what matters and where humanity is headed have exasperated and estranged generations who want linear solutions and are tiring of endless controversy.

Yet these crises are solvable. We must focus our efforts to enhance humanity’s capacity to solve these challenges by realigning priorities and resources and pursuing values grounded on common values committed to purposeful change. The book, Empower Us!, resonates with common sense and spiritual and institutional insights that go beyond the agility, consensus, and team building solutions often proposed. To deal with the core issues of our dysfunctional world, we have to move beyond the wisdom of the “new normal” to a truly insightful recognition of humanity’s capacity for managing change.

 

The phrase “new normal” is repetitive in articles about the impact of the pandemic. Initially, if one follows its history in Wikipedia, it was the result of a “teachable moment” following the avian flu where in some novel enlightenment would reassemble our vision of reality. It then found its home among economists describing the aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis to assess where the economy was headed. But, while it describes most often the results of dealing with a disruption to the routine, the analysts most often consider the what rather than the why of transformations that occurred and continue to reshape our world. As importantly, few look at the opportunities, the actual learning, that emerge from understanding disruptions to the status quo and how that should guide our re-imagination of the possible.

This is even more critical when one considers that the globalization of information and technology is only one factor in shaping the new order of interaction and communication. It is misleading to assume that what happens here is valid there and that new parameters are common worldwide. As someone who has spent far too many years providing culturally-sensitive correctives to management and development models and behaviors, Empower Us! is a welcome ally in shaping how we think about the new normal.

 

With insights and perspectives from more than 40 contributors, crossing five generations, on all continents, the book incorporates a range of responses to the pandemic, the social and economic restructuring underway, and bits of wisdom that honor the need for the new normal to indeed be new – in how we characterize, assign, value, and shape the outcomes of the significant changes underway. It is all about understanding and actively respecting core values that define the many “new normals” under construction.

Empower Us! provides entertaining and thought-provoking insights into how we understand and guide transformation: in how we engage the world, direct our energies and actions within a values-based context, and integrate new voices of youth and the marginalized in growth strategies.

Its authors, Dr. Ira Kaufman and Velimir Srića, have decades of experience leading consulting projects and academic programs worldwide focusing on understanding the dynamic qualities of transformation and going beyond changing behaviors, and instilling supportive behaviors to achieve goals. They believe that guiding transformation strategies through periods of disruption and recalibration requires a thorough understanding of the values that are an intrinsic part of the dynamics of change as we move into the already occurring next phase of human development.

Empower Us! blends parables, quotes, very helpful tables, and questionnaires, to illustrate and illuminate that the process of conceptualizing and defining root causes of disruption and transformation actually enables better strategic responses. Change becomes more impactful within a framework of transformational values. The central role of values, community, inclusiveness, and trust are reinforced with data and insights throughout the text.

AI, the transformation of work from labor to enterprise, the inclusion of a 360⁰ valuation of the impact of transactions, the growth in the availability of information by anyone with digital access, and the connectedness of globalization have drastically changed the world and how we should live in it, appreciate it, share it, and care for it. Empower Us! is a call to action that provides tools and insights that enable each of us to acquire a formidable set of skills to appreciate and manage, as a community, the transformation of the new normal to one based on shared values and appreciation.

A business model for creating a sustainable world

Book Review: EmPower Us! From Crisis to Strategic Harmony 

Snjezana Slabek

Senior Director Learning & Training, Academy Cognite AS, Norway

Top 100 Movers & Shakers

February 5, 2021

Direct and to the point, this book delivers what it promises in the title. It is an astonishingly rich book, full of intellectual surprises and new horizons. The more you read, the more you would get to uncover the layers. EmPower us! From Crisis to Strategic Harmony suggests that we can collectively rise to a new level of existence and explains how we can accomplish this goal on personal and social levels. It challenges us to embark on a transformation journey. The journey that begins in our hearts and minds and continues in our impact on society.

On every page of the book, you can feel the authors’ passion for making the world a better place. Although they seriously consider the world today, they do not start from a victim position. Still, they remind us of the fundamental human values we need to embrace to build a sustainable society. They give practical instructions, examples, and steps that can help every organization to get there. The book was written in collaboration with many experts from different fields and as such testifies to exactly what it is about: the power of co-creation.

What I especially like about this book is that it forces you to look at things differently. The book encourages you to awaken the hero within by realizing that heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost. A book provides a clear path from reactive to proactive behavior by clarifying that everything depends on us. This book would give you a practical framework that you can put to use in your company/team from today itself. Rising above our inherent reactivity and behaving proactively creates a genuine transformation that connects us to purpose and fulfillment.

The book will also inspire you to rethink your business models and challenge you to replace your outdated approaches that don’t work anymore. A book you must read if you want to navigate this crisis successfully.

I strongly recommend EmPower Us! to any person looking to create a positive impact in creating a sustainable society. Seems like there has never been a more perfect time for this wisdom to be bestowed among people.

A book that’s critically important right now!

The betterment of human society

Book Review: EmPower Us! From Crisis to Strategic Harmony  

By Joshua Beach – joshuabeach9@gmail.com

December 3, 2020

This is a book that’s critically important right now. While it is unlikely scores and scores will pick it up and use as it a call to arms for promoting its ideas, it nonetheless adds an intelligent and deeply concerned voice to the ongoing discussion about the worsening state of human endeavor and how we might set ourselves on a new course rather than continuing on a downhill slide. Ira Kaufman and Velimir Srića’s EmPower Us! From Crisis to Strategic Harmony 

concedes, from the first, that many will not agree with their assessment that our world is in such a state of disrepair, but they do not allow that reality to stop them from pushing forward concepts and ideas, deeply humanist in nature, for how we might steer ourselves in a much different direction. The book is also quite unique in how it aligns itself with no particular philosophy; as alluded to in a previous sentence, their allegiance is to the betterment of human society and nothing else.

It isn’t just unique but refreshing. Books of this nature seem to frequently serve as quasi-political testimonies stumping for a particular vision built around partisan principles. Instead, the authors ground their plan for a better tomorrow around the reshuffling of human nature. They begin by identifying how we reached this critical state in our global history – old orders and values have crumbled in a world spinning faster and faster due to a wide variety of factors and our response to rectifying the damage has been wholly inadequate. Rather than pronouncing sweeping judgments over nations and peoples, the authors rely on respected research and strong anecdotal evidence to support their point of view.

It’s a sweeping and extensive book, but it is built in such a way that you never feel overwhelmed by its sheer breadth. They point out how there have been a number of new societal and business models already introduced into our world that have proven the efficiency of  alternative approaches and there’s a strong case made for how personal change is essential to bringing about many of the larger alternations we require. This is an important component in the book’s potential for reaching a wide audience. There is no religious touch to the book, but the writers do find value in some of the personal ideas Christian and Muslim texts promote – without any of the fundamentalist and extreme views often assigned to those volumes.

EmPower Us! From Crisis to Strategic Harmony  will not appeal to everyone. The writers even open the book admitting that not all of us will find common ground with their positions, but I finished the book largely in concurrence with their point of view, if not the feasibility of their ideas. I appreciate their attempt to engage these important issues, their take on values, and the accessibility of the writing. Ira Kaufman and Velimir Srića clearly work well together here and deserve a lot of applause for an excellent addition to a growing library of books on this very subject.

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A”Fix Society” Book… not dogmatic or partisan…                          addressing our global challenges  

Book Review: EmPower Us! From Crisis to Strategic Harmony  

December 1, 2020

By Mindy McCall – indiemindymccall@gmail.com

The most notable facet of this book, for me, is its lack of a dogmatic or partisan point of view. Ira Kaufman and Velimir Srića’s EmPower Us! From Crisis to Strategic Harmony acknowledges and examines the many challenges humanity faces twenty years into the 21st century, but it never latches onto a particular school of political thought, but rather takes a broad-based humanistic approach. The book’s introduction lays this out with a clearly written and authoritative tone, but there is never a hint of hectoring or preaching in the book’s “voice”. Instead, they sketch out the work’s thesis and prepare readers for what is to come.

The authors do an exceptional job early on of fleshing out the book’s central idea of “Strategic Harmony”. Some may greet the idea that what we think, do, feel, and hope for is a simplistic framework for restructuring the world as we know it today and realizing genuine change, but the writers build their case convincingly without ever viewing the world and their ideas through “rose colored glasses”. Moreover, they often back up their argument with well-chosen research further buttressing their arguments. Again, it is a hallmark of this thoughtful work just how well delineated such moments are and it strengthens the book as a whole. Even those readers who either disagree or remain skeptical will acknowledge the passion and, above all else, the intelligence behind Kaufman and Srića’s presentation.

I like how the writers preface each guidepost with well-chosen epigrams from a variety of sources and how they systematically dismantle a series of what they deem to be “myths” in our modern society without ever taking on a sour tone. The main body of the work goes on to break down each of the author’s underlying ideas without ever immersing the reader in a wealth of needless detail. Some of the terminology they adopt, words like “catalytic” and “catalyzers”, are not inaccessible to the casual reader – rather they illustrate how the proposed values should be synthesized into a multi-threaded approach towards transforming every aspect of our modern world. They provide, at key points, illustrations further elaborating on their ideas and many readers will find those helpful.

They bring the book to a satisfying conclusion by decisively tying the aforementioned threads together. Everything matters – the economic, socio-political, political, technological, and they note how their ideas can and will, if pursued, reshape each of those elements. The same lack of hectoring or high-handedness present in the beginning of this work remains strong at its conclusion and demonstrates the overall balance characterizing Kaufman and Srića’s style. Despite being a relatively lengthy work, even readers with a cursory interest in the challenges faced by humanity today will find EmPower Us! From Crisis to Strategic Harmony an illuminating read, but those who are truly engaged with those challenges will take a step further – they will find this book to be essential reading and return to it again and again.

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