Entries in Michael Bungay Stanier (2)


Get Unstuck & Get Going

Sometimes creativity and practicality come together and the result is impressive.  A few years ago, I found this sweet spot in a book called Get Unstuck & Get Going by Michael Bungay Stanier. 

Last Summer, I had the opportunity to talk with Michael about his newest book, Do More Great Work.  (See bottom of this blog for a link).  Get Unstuck & Get Going is a gift disguised as a book.  Its unique spiral-bound design allows the reader to create 50,000 combinations of provocative quotations, stories, models and questions.

The premise is simplicity itself.  “People feel stuck because they can only see one way of doing what they want to do -- and they don’t like that option.  But possibilities get you unstuck.  If you can create possibilities, you can have more than one option.  And with more than one option, you have a choice.”

He opens the book with an Action Acceleration Sheet (Also available as a download] that helps you define your challenge (identify where you’re stuck) how to evaluate new ideas, and then transform ideas into action.

The book is divided into three flip pages -- so you can see at glance an inspiring story, a provocative quote and a powerful model.  What elevates Get Unstuck and Get Going beyond an ordinary aggregation of quotes and stories is Bungay Stanier’s questions that follow each entry.

To show you how the book works, I selected three flip pages at random. 

The Inspiring Story was about a coffee shop called Cherry Bomb -- that has a least 10 competitors but succeeds because of its ASAP philosophy.  That’s not ASAP (As Soon As Possible) but ASAP in [As Simple as Possible.]  “They’ve removed every barrier they can to help get your coffee fast -- from the pricing to the line up process.” Michael follows the story with two questions:  “What’s the simple thing to do?  How are you overcomplicating things?”

The provocative quotation is an Indian Proverb. “The cobra will bite you whether you call it cobra or Mr. Cobra.”  The questions:  Who are you showing too much respect?  Who might bite you in this situation?

The Powerful Model section is an excellent catalyst.  I selected #9 “Any situation can be put into one of three different buckets:  Something you can control, Something you can influence and Something you can neither control or influence.

Michael’s questions:  What can you control about this challenge?  What can you influence?

 What makes the book such a useful tool is that each three panel page creates a synergy of questions and ideas. Change a single panel and a new synergy is created.  In the example above, the insights are about simplicity, respect, and influence.

If you change a panel in the quotation area, you might find a question about rallying support or recruiting an ally. The new dynamic is simplicity, developing alliances and influence. You can focus in on any one panel or see the entire page a blueprint for thinking about your problem.

If you’re looking for book that will rattle your cage and help you do more great work, I encourage you get Unstuck & Get Going.









Michael Bungay Stanier and Do More Great Work.

The ghost of Albert Einstein occasionally hovers somewhere in upstate New York.

Michael Bungay Stanier, the founder and senior Partner of Box of Crayons, was vacationing at a cabin that Einstein had frequented. The ramshackle cabin was a disappointment to Stanier and his family, but the vacation wasn’t.

In the harsh glow of 75-watt bulb and dodging squadrons of ravenous mosquitoes, Bungay Stanier wrote over half of the book that would become Do More Great Work.

Born in Australia, Bungay Stanier was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and holds a Master’s Degree in Philosophy.  He worked in London at What If! -- now the world’s largest independent innovation company.

Bungay Stanier and his wife moved to Toronto the day before 9/11 and created Box of Crayons – a coaching and creative facilitation company that works with such companies as AstraZeneca, Merck, Nestle, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Pfizer, and Campbell’s.

The spark that began in Einstein's  cabin was a question. “How do you do more of the work that makes a difference and makes you happy and less of all that other stuff that fills your working day?

It is a philosopher’s question. But in the deft hands of Bungay Stanier, the answer is a superbly-crafted and inspirational roadmap to creating better, more meaningful work.

The premise of the book is that many of us do far too much good work -- treading water or bad work --energy sapping activities and not enough great work  -- true sustainable satisfaction.

The core of Do More Great Work is a series of 15 interactive “maps” – a way to visualize how you’re working now what you’d like to do differently. Like an mental GPS, the maps are designed to illuminate possibilities by asking critical questions like Where am I?  How did I get here? Where am I going? Is there a better route?  Could there be a different destination?

You could probably invest thousands of dollars on an executive coach and not get a fraction of the powerful insights you’ll discover in this $11.95 book. ($8.60 on Amazon).

Bungay Stanier does what all great coaches do, he prods, pokes, teaches, motivates and inspires people to find smarter, more fulfilling ways to work. Do More Great Work is engaging from first page to last. It invites you into a process of discovery and guides you into action.

Bungay Stanier’s book has already earned the praise of such people as Marshall Goldsmith (What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There) David Allen (Getting Things Done) and Seth Godin. (Permission Marketing and The Dip).

So this book doesn’t need another elevator speech.  But I will give it one anyway.  Imagine if you could take your current work situation – warts and all – to a top executive coach and innovation guru and discover how you could make the leap into a smarter way of working?

That’s the greatness of Do More Great Work.

It’s a book that doesn’t just belong on your shelf, it belongs in your thinking.


Michael's website is: