Book review: The First 90 Days

Success or failure in times of change or transition can be determined in the first 90 days – and here's a handbook/checklist to see you through.

The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins
Harvard Business Review Press, $49.99

book review the first 90 days idealogThe best thing about staying curious is the reward you get when something is revealed that you didn’t know you didn’t know. The gap in my mental armoury was in not knowing there’s so much that can be done to ensure success in fluid times.

Enter The First 90 Days. Watkins has taken a rather prosaic proposition (first impressions count) and built around it a handbook that grown-ups can use in business, particularly in times of change and transition.

Watkins explains that success or failure in times of change or transition can be determined in the first 90 days.

In other words, how we perform in the first few months sets the tone for the long haul.

After the honeymoon is over, things will inevitably slip back unless new impetus is inspiring and engaging.

It’s easy to take for granted simple propositions like this. We can get smug thinking we know all there is to know.

Like breathing, it’s so obvious we think, “Of course we can do it – we’ve been doing it for years”, but then someone comes along and explains how we can do it better. Someone puts some discipline into making sure we do it well.

That’s what The First 90 Days does. It’s both a handbook and a checklist.

It’s a pity the book looks so boring – the design doesn’t make you want to pull it off the shelf.